Home' Teacher : August 2010 Contents 10 TEACHER AUGUST 2010
for enhancing both student achievement
and self- esteem, and that a preoccupation
with building student self-esteem through
a permissive approach in the hope that this
will translate into student achievement and
development is counter-productive.'
We also noted that recent research on
schools that are successful in facilitating
students' academic, personal and social
development shows that they achieved this
through an effective balance between stu-
dent achievement and student welfare, and
pointed out that whether a school might
be perceived as being either a 'welfare' or
'academic' school is a false dichotomy that
is unhelpful and indeed damaging.
I've noted in How to Get Your School
Moving and Improving that I believe we
made a fundamental error in education
during the 1960s. At the time, schooling
was typically authoritarian and as a wave
of change moved through society, it was
determined that schools needed to be more
responsive to students as individuals and
that things such as multiculturalism and
values education should be included in the
curriculum. The mistake we made was see-
ing responsiveness and demandingness as
mutually exclusive -- the idea that to be more
responsive to students meant we had to be
less demanding. Thus, rather than becoming
more authoritative, schools became more
permissive, in line with changes in society,
and we've been paying for this error ever
since. Having said that, the best teachers
and schools have always been authoritative.
They've also understood the vital impor-
tance of feedback in learning. Hattie, in
Visible Learning, points out that feedback
from teacher to student can have a large to
very large effect on student achievement.
Based on my research, as I've previously
pointed out in 'Feedback on feedback' in
these pages, I believe students need and
want answers to four questions:
1. What can I do?
2. What can't I do?
3. How does my work compare with that
4. How can I do better?
As I noted in 'Feedback on feedback,'
'Look at learning or mastery in fields as
diverse as sports, the arts, languages, the
sciences or recreational activities and it's
easy to see how important feedback is to
learning and accomplishment. An expert
teacher, mentor or coach can readily
explain, demonstrate and detect flaws in
performance. He or she can also identify
talent and potential, and build on these.
In contrast, trial and error learning or
poor teaching are less effective and take
longer. If performance flaws are not detected
and corrected, these can become ingrained
and will be much harder to eradicate later.
Learners who don't receive instruction,
encouragement and correction can become
disillusioned and quit due to lack of progress.'
Some teachers avoid telling students what
they can't yet do and how their work com-
pares to others' because they feel this sort
of feedback will harm students' self-esteem.
I don't see any harm in this feedback, how-
ever, particularly if students also receive
feedback on how they can do better, that is,
practical assistance on how they can improve
their work. In my experience, however, many
students don't receive such advice.
If we want to boost students' self-esteem,
the best way to do this is for every student to
be recognised as a learner and a person, and
for every student to receive balanced feed-
backto enable them to achieve in the context
of quality teaching and effective schooling.
Every student needs to feel recognised
and cared about. Every student needs to
experience success and feel that they are pro-
gressing in their learning and development.
Real achievement, no matter how small, is
the best way to engender self-concept and
self- esteem. This can then ser ve as a solid
foundation for further achievement. In this
way, self-esteem and student achievement
affect each other in a reciprocal fashion, but
in my experience, achievement is the foun-
dation of self-esteem and must come first.
We shouldn't shy away from the concept of
failure. Having failed and then succeeded
at something can be a powerful driver for
learning and self- esteem.
We shouldn't shy away
from the concept of failure.
Having failed and then
succeeded at something
can be a powerful driver for
learning and self-esteem.
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