The educational importance of self-esteem

Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (1):119-132 (2008)
Abstract
Some philosophers of education have recently argued that educators can more or less ignore children's global self-esteem without failing them educationally in any important way. This paper draws on an attachment theoretic account of self-esteem to argue that this view is mistaken. I argue that understanding self-esteem's origins in attachment supports two controversial claims. First, self-esteem is a crucial element of the confidence and motivation children need in order to engage in and achieve educational pursuits, especially in certain domains of instruction such as physical education. Second, self-esteem can be facilitated socially, through an appropriate arrangement of school institutions, thus without hindering the pursuit of other high priority aims such as a challenging academic curriculum. Consequently I maintain that educators who ignore self-esteem overlook something educationally important.
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