A Note on Self Esteem

An optimum level of self esteem has been associated with achievement. On the one hand, self esteem is learned in a social context. On the other, self esteem develops as people appreciate the value of their own efforts as they develop, strive for, and realize personal life goals.

The climate of a classroom is important for appropriate self esteem to grow in relation to learning. Students can best develop self esteem in a climate where individual differences are appreciated. They are helped by the setting of clear expectations in terms of classroom work, behaviour, and relationships. They are also helped when teachers and other students appreciate and acknowledge their positive contributions to classroom life and learning.

Competition with others for standard outcomes can be discouraging for many children and therefore not helpful in their learning. In project work, children can compete in seeking divergent or alternative outcomes (without such discouragement) because the work allows for alternative responses at many levels. Opportunities can be provided for children to contribute in original and creative ways. In classrooms where children are encouraged to evaluate their own achievement, there is also a healthy sense of competition with one’s own earlier performance rather than with other children.