I agree with the initial premise that there have been some silly things done in education under the banner of "positive self concept" or some such assertion.
Way too often there is a fundamental flaw in proposed solutions to improving education, and one has entered in this discussion. The example given about phonics implies that if only students had been taught phonics all would be better readers and spellers. Not true! In order for phonics to work, one has to be able to hear minor differences in sounds. Since many here are musicians, you may not realize that your ability to hear well is not a characteristic of everyone. I have seen several people (myself included) who wonder what the heck is going on when people try to say, "Hear the difference between the -int and -ent sound?"
My point is this; there is NO single approach to any part of education that will work with ALL students. Someday we will realize that people are INDIVIDUALS and will provide INDIVIDUAL instruction for them. But that will only happen when educating students becomes as important as making war.
I could go on for hours, but - - -