"Self-esteem" Not What It Used To Be

A couple of decades of boosting children's self-esteem turns out to not have much effect on a student's grades. Oh, praise is still seen as effective, but educators are beginning to reward students for more than just showing up.
A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities. As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” — each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

“We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. “That has backfired.”

Dweck’s studies, embraced in Montgomery schools and elsewhere, have found that praising children for intelligence — “You’re so clever!” — also backfires. In study after study, children rewarded for being smart become more likely to shy away from hard assignments that might tarnish their star reputations.

But children praised for trying hard or taking risks tend to enjoy challenges and find greater success. Children also perform better in the long term when they believe that their intellect is not a birthright but something that grows and develops as they learn new things.


(Image credit: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

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Bullies have self-esteem issues too, that's why they are bullies. The ancients used to project all of their sins into a goat which they would either kick off their land or sacrifice on the altar to some god. This is where we get the term "scapegoat" from. "Scape" is a late 13th century aphetic form of "escape", so the term could be written as "escapegoat" if this better illustrates the nature of the act. We can escape from our sins by projecting it all onto some child, punishing them and patting ourselves on the back for what good people we are. This will protect us from facing the larger issue of a misguided and corrupt society (the reason we have bullies in the first place). Its just like we do with so-called "Criminals".
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Just know that self is a misnomer. What is really going on there is an aggregate of somatosensory processes. It can be said either that there is no one or that there is only one (totality). All this kind of disorder in society can be traced back to the predominance of delusions about self-hood. Self-hood can be a prison for the mind causing despair and elation depend on one's ability to see themselves as an integral and valuable part of a larger system. In truth, because the self is an aggregate, it is already always an integral part of a larger system. It is just misrepresented in every aspect of culture.
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I grew up in the Washington area, and joined Fairfax County's gifted program the year I became old enough. In the gifted program, were led to believe that we were somehow better than the "regular" kids, that we were by definition high achievers, and that we were going to go on to have great jobs in life. This is a lot to lay on a kid in elementary school, and it took a long, long time to learn that none of this was necessarily true.

Anyway, I posted this article on facebook yesterday, and a bunch of my fellow former gifted children chimed in to agree with it and the above. Being told how smart we were did us a disservice - when things didn't come easy to us, we felt like we couldn't let it be known, because then we'd be revealed not to be smart. And when we got out of school into the real world, it turned out that just being naturally somewhat smart was not at all enough.

What's funny is that all these years, I thought I was the only one who had had a number done on them by all the things we were told as "gifted" children - but it turns out a great many of my peers felt the same. I got a lot out of the program - I wouldn't not join it, given the choice again - but I hope the kids in it these days aren't being fed such deleterious messages.
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