Home' Teacher : August 2010 Contents We know from research that student self- concept or self-esteem -- terms that are
used interchangeably in the research literature -- can have a moderate to large effect
on student achievement, as John Hattie points out in Visible Lear ning.
It follows that, if this is correct, boosting self-esteem would result in higher
levels of achievement. Self-esteem is also seen as important in the contribution it
makes to resilience, that capacity to persist in the face of challenge, pressure and
disappointment. Many educators have taken this view on board, particularly with
students from lower socieconomic backgrounds and minority backgrounds.
The view that educators ought to boost self-esteem typically manifests in
schools in four ways:
avoiding anything that is thought to detract from self-esteem, such as criticism,
negative feedback, failing or low grades, reporting on a student's position in class
or year, using red pens on student work and the like
giving large amounts of 'positive reinforcement' through praise, merit certifi-
cates, making students feel good about themselves and their culture, making
them feel proud and confident
being over-protective of children, which, as Lenore Skenazy has observed, can
result in delayed autonomy and extended parental dependence, and
providing learning that is 'fun,' 'relevant' and with a high degree of student choice,
which can result in low expectations and 'dumbing down' through students not
being sufficiently challenged and extended.
This focus on self-esteem, however, is flawed. If we attempt to protect or boost
students' self- esteem in the ways outlined above, we're doing them no favours and,
quite possibly, we're setting them up for failure and disappointment.
Some schools, especially in low socioeconomic areas, consider themselves 'wel-
fare' rather than 'academic' schools and believe that the best thing they can do
for their disadvantaged clientele is to teach them social and life skills, give them
6 TEACHER AUGUST 2010
Caution -- do not
IF WE OVER-INFLATE OUR STUDENTS' SELF-ESTEEM, WE RUN THE
RISK THAT THE AIR WILL QUICKLY COME OUT OF THE BALLOON
WHEN THEY HIT THE WIDE WORLD, SAYS STEPHEN DINHAM.
Links Archive July 2010 September 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page