ArticlePDF Available


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.
Should school teachers and administrators worry themselves much about the esteem
children have for themselves as persons, i.e. their 'global' selfesteem (henceforth, just
'selfesteem')? In recent work on the subject, two authors have advanced an array of
is argued, conflict with the pursuit of other more important educational aims, such as
academic achievement or character education (Smith, 2002). Others are more
the con fidence , and thus the motivation, ch ildren n eed in order to  be good learne rs or
behave well (Kristjánsso n,2007 ).A related ,emp irical argument claims that selfestee m
is not connec ted to it causall y either (ibid). Were these arguments pe rsuasive, it wou ld
seem educators could largely igno rechildren's selfesteem without failing them in any
Idonotthinkthisisso.Whilethereis acommonaccountofselfesteemandits
educational significance that is somewhat vulnerable to the arguments of Kristjánsson
and Smith, I will argue that their arguments are unsound or do not apply to an
appropriat ely sophisticated acco unt, which I call th e attachment account. Accordin g to
that account, selfesteem is importantly connected to the confidence and motivation
childrenneedinordertoengageinandachieveeducationalgoalsandcan andshouldbe
and student,butbetweenstudent andthesocialenvironmentofthe schoolitself.This is
especially the case, I will argue, in certain domains of instruction such as physical
education and the arts. Consequ ently, school educators shou ld concern themse lvesw ith
The argu ment proceeds as  follo ws. Section  2 outlines a simp le account of sel f
esteem and its educational significance and discusses its vulnerability to Smith and
Kristjánsson's arguments. Section 3 introduces the attach ment account and responds to
Kristjánsson's conceptual and empirical arguments. Section 4 then elaborates the
to Smith’s consequentialist argument. Section 5 responds to Smith's deontological
The current literature features various accounts of selfesteem and its educational
significance,e.g.RuthCigman's 'situatedselfesteem'(2004) or Kristjánsson's'justified'
conception(2007).HereIoutlinea standardaccount ofwhichsomeoftheseotherscan
be seen as variations. I use this account in what follows for two reasons. One, while
Smith and Kristjánsson do not explicitly treat it as the target of their critiques, it
illustrateswelltheforceoftheirarguments.Second,itisalsoaverycommon accountin
According to the standard account, selfesteem is how a person feels about
herself,goodorbad,andasmanifested inavarietyofways,e.g.inprideorshame,but
especial lyin  selfconfidence (U.S. Dep t. of Health and Hu man Services  (U.S. DHHS),
n.d.). Bec ause people c anfee l more or less well about the mselves and be more or les s
selfconfident, the standard account asserts that selfesteem can be high, low, and
somewhere in between. However, high selfesteem is claimed to have a variety of
behavioral benefits. These include independence, responsibility taking, toleration of
frustration, resistancetopeerpressure, willingness toattemptnewtasksandchallenges,
ability to  handle positive and negative e motions, and  willingness to o ffer assi stance to
frustration, take risks, and work independently make good learners. Were high self
esteem also rel ated to responsibility taking, imp erviousness to peer pressure ,e motional
stability, and altruism, it would appear to be crucial to good moral character as well.
Scholars of education and public policy makers have not overlooked these supposed
benefits. The California Task Force to Promote SelfEsteem and Personal and Social
maintains that selfesteem is a crucial component of the confidence, and so the
motivat ion,th at children need in orde rto su cceed academically and  as persons (2004).
While decidedly controversial, the reasoning behind the motivational claim is
both intuitive and supported by introspection. Relative to achieving a difficult or
focus on it to the degree that doing it well demands. Moreover, nervous selfdoubt
impairs the  functioning of th e faculties ne eded to execute e ffective ly, for in stance, the
ability to think clearly and critically. It is also intuitive and seemingly confirmed by
introspection that the confidence manifesting high selfesteem is important to good
character. On the one hand, people who doubt their worth or competence can be
maddeningly difficult to deal with, shuttered to the bright side and susceptible to envy
and jealousy.Ontheotherhand, aperson who isconfidentofherworth can respond to
threats without anxious concern to defend herself or simply shrug them off as they
Thestandard accountofselfesteem and itseducationalsignificanceis,however,
vulnerable to Smith and Kristjánsson's arguments to some extent. Consider the
consequentialist argument. It says, contra the motivational claim, that efforts to foster
selfesteem in the classroom hinder the pursuit of o ther high priority aims, including
those forwhichthestandardaccountclaimsselfesteemisanecessaryprecondition,e.g.
a high  degree of acade mic accomplishment . The argument  gets traction in  light of the
supposed pedagogical requirements of fostering selfesteem. The authors of 'Building
SelfEsteem in Children', for instance, instruct parents to “be generous with praise”,
“teach po sitive selfstatements ,” and “avoid criticism tha t takes the form o f ridicu le or
shame” (U.S. DHHS). Presumably, teachers should follow suit, and apparently many
have. Smith cites the Cantors who instruct teachers to swap talk of punishment for
misbehavior with talk of 'consequences' (2002, p. 93). But academic and behavioral
theself,which, onthestandard account,isjustwhat low selfesteemcomesto.Thus,it
appears that teachers cannot both instruct children academically and behaviorally and
instruction  is a central p roblem for those who  favor mak ing selfeste em an educational
theirowncase againstworryingmuchaboutschoolchildren'sselfesteem.Theempirical
argument,forinstance,maintains thatexperimentalsupportforthemotivationalclaimis
too weak. As Kristjánsson has noted, many studies find only what most psychologists
consider a weak correlation, about .20, between low selfesteem and undesirable
educational outcomes such as academic underperformance (2007). Furthermore, many
empirical argument is cogent, whether the consequentialist one is sound is beside the
Empiric ale vidence aside, K ristjánsso no bjects that the standard accoun t of self
esteem anditssignificanceismistakentoconnectselfesteem andselfconfidenceinthe
achievement by connecting it to selfconfidence, wh ich has fairly ob vious educational
advantage s. But, as Kristján sson argues, selfest eem and selfconfid ence seem to be  in
some sense distinct, neither being sufficient for the other. For example, consider a
“student(...movingcountries)whose schoolbasedselfesteem inherhomecountrywas
low,butwhorelishesthechance ofmovingtoanewplacewhereshethinksshewillbe
abletodobetter”(2007,p.260).Hereconfidenceappears tobeunaffectedbylowself
byempirical research finding a“muchstrongerlinkbetweenselfconfidenceandschool
ofourbeliefs aboutlowselfesteem'sstatusasacharacterdefect.Thestandardaccount
seems toassume thatourbeliefshere areunifiedand whollynegative—lowselfesteem
the capacities of the child) (Smith, 2006, p. 56). But when we investigate our beliefs
carefully, Smith claims, we also find admiration and love for diffidence and low self
esteem. Citing examples of diffident sorts, such as Fanny in Austen's Mansfield Park,
Smith argues against Hume's claim that we love the diffident person because of her
because o f her very diffidence and not because , by being 'improved', she will become
deploymentofinstructionaltechniquesinthe service ofraising selfesteem,asifpeople
On the basis of arguments like these, Kristjánsson and Smith conclude that
educators ought not worry themselves at all (Kristjánsson) or much (Smith) about
children 's selfest eem. Though the arguments are differen t and their final  positions not
quite the same, the shared upshot is that educators would not fail children in any
The argumen tso f Kristján sson and Smith fail, I will argue , to show that educato rs can
safely put aside concern for children's selfesteem. Some of the arguments on critical
scrutiny are simply not very strong. On the other hand, thinking about selfesteem’s
educational significance in terms of the attachment account reveals responses to the
Tobegin with the attachmentaccount,itisbestintroducedbycontrasttowhatI
willcall a cognitiveJamesian account ,bec ause of its origins in the though tof William
James(1950).Jamesmaintained thattheesteemapersonhasforherselfisafunctionof
the ratio o f her a spirations to  acknowledged succes ses. Th ati s, the more that a perso n
for hersel f. The cognitiveJam esian account is thus 'cogn itive' because it main tains that
difference between it and the attachment account. Like the standard account, which
identifies selfesteem with feelings, the attachment account denies that selfesteem is
that the most fundamental determinant of selfesteem is not any feeling itself, but a
relativel y stable dispo sition to be liefs and feelin gs expressing pos itive or negative self
regard,e.g.prideorshameorconfidenceor selfdoubt.Onthisview,thesedispositions
tend to precede and determine which beliefs about our merits we will accept. The
The attachment account is ‘attachment theoretic’ because it maintains that
is primarily a function of the quality of our childhood  attachment to our parents.
1 All
children expect that their parents will be readily available to pay attention to them,
especial lyin times o f distress. But repeate d frustration of this expec tation is though tto
ramify into a habit of selfdoub t for the child about he r worthiness of that atten tion, or
As a general theory of selfesteem, the attachment account has significant
advantages over the cognitiveJamesian account. As a matter of introspection, the
experience of selfesteem seems more affectively charged than a mere belief in one’s
socialacceptanceorapprovala matterofselfesteemonlyinsofarasweaspiretoit, but
this seems mistaken. Probably the majority of people, including selfprofessed rugged
individualists, desire social acceptance and are weighed down by its absence. For
to assent to some such belief when prompted. However, even this disposition is
insufficient to explain selfesteem, since many persons have it, yet we would not be
willing to say that they are high selfesteem persons. What is missing is a basic
disposition to experience the self as somehow good or bad unmediated by accepted
beliefs. Imagine an academic who is high achieving, beloved by her intimates and
associates, and knows it. She has and acknowledges every reason to believe in her
success andworthinessofthe love,respect,andesteemofothers.Imaginehoweverthat,
well into tenure, she anxiously doubts and interrogates herself in the face o f ordinary
tasks, such as writing or presenting a new paper, asking an associate for a relatively
minorfavor,orconfronting atroublestudent.Onsuchoccasions,she encountersherself
to work on this prob lem? Do I really belon g in academia? And when ever things do go
it maintains that some threshold level of dispositional selfconfidence is necessary for
high selfesteem. But in light of its advantages, this seems correct. Moreover, it is
perfectlycompatiblewith Kristjánsson'sclaim.Ofcoursenoteveryoccasiononwhicha
person judges herself to be inadequate must she lack selfconfidence about her
possibilities of future success. Perhaps there's something different about the imagined
future that, to her mind, justifies the optimism. But ongoing patterns of anxious self
doubt stillmanifestlow selfesteem.Therelevant questioninthecase ofKristjánsson's
schoolgirl is, what happens when she begins to confront genuine challenges to her
In reconnecting selfesteem to qualities in turn connected to a person's
motivationalcapacities,theattachmentaccount alsothusrejectsKristjánsson'sempirical
argument. It is noteworthy that this argument's strength is in any case not obviously
overwhelming, for it is (or should be) controversial how weak the socalled weak
in psycho logical science, in med ical science, a correlation of this magnitude be tween,
that 1 /5 of smokers will develop a  commonly fatal disease. Th is is significan t inde ed.
Similarly, if 1/5 of low selfesteem students do much worse than others, this would
But suppose I am wrong about that. Nevertheless, as just argued, habits of
nervous selfdoubt and selfrecrimination are conceptually tied to lower selfesteem,
habitsofbasicselfconfidencetohigherselfesteem.Nowmanystudies,as Kristjánsson
notes, connect selfconfidence to achievement more strongly than to selfesteem. So
educators shouldfosterselfconfidence. But in lightoftheattachment account,thiswill
stemming from experiences of rejection. Furthermore, some newly emerging research
finds th ats ecure parental attachme nt is positively associ ated with a cademic motivation
(DuchesneandLarose,2007) andperformance(Cotterell,1992).Otherresearch,though
reviews in detail research connecting poor infantp arent attachment to low selfesteem
and unde rdevelopment of parts  of the brain respo nsible for regul ating emotions (2004 ,
as an inability to inhibit inappropriate behaviors or seek relief from intense emotions
throughstrategiesofselfdistractionorinthe supportofothers(ibid,PartII).Butwhile
thedamageGerhardtoutlinesisnotnecessarilypermanent, because attachment andself
III, Ch. 9). Hence, in the educational domain, addressing selfesteem may be a
requirement of resolving confidence or attachment problems that affect academic
I conclude that the empirical record is at worst ambiguous on the educational
significance of selfesteem and possibly very supportive. From this claim, it does not
follow that fosteringselfesteemshould jumpto the top of the list of educationalgoals.
However,itdoesmeanthatinthinkingabout selfesteem'seducational significance,we
must, for no w, fall ba ckon  reason more than  Kristjánsson h as. As I will argue belo w,
there are many good reasons for believing that low selfesteem is an important
impedimenttoachievement or the willtobehavewell,especiallyincertaindomainsof
Understandingselfesteem attachmenttheoretically,Iwillargue,shows that selfesteem
is important to the confidence that children need in order to engage and succeed in
educationalpursuits,especially in certaindomainsofinstruction,butalsothatitcanbe
fosteredwithouthindering the pursuitofotherimportant educationalaims.Thedefense
fostering selfesteem, at least indirectly, is generally an important educational priority
and that (b) relative tocertaindomainsofinstruction,especiallyphysicaleducationand
the arts, school educators should make concern for selfesteem among their highest
To begin with an obvious objection, there is a definite sense in which
understand ing selfesteem attachme nt theoretically makes  it vulnerable to the prob lems
theirparents fortheirselfesteem,teacherscanhaverelativelylittledirectimpact.Their
relationship to their students is simply not that important. In fact, some theorists have
suggested that children's relationship to their peers is more important (Harter, 1999).
foster selfesteem reaching this level must indeed interfere with the pursuit of higher
priority educational aims, since it must quite literally take  the place of care giving or
and ought to do th atw ill foster se lfesteem  without hindering the pursuit of oth erh igh
detour through political philosophy via a corollary of the attachment account of self
Because the fundamental element of selfesteem is the extent to which a person takes
herself to be worthy of the love, respect, or esteem of others, the attachment account
implies thatexperiencing the self as sociallyexcluded or rejectedisespecially liableto
trigger feelings of shame or humiliation, and therefore, reinforce habits of self
To elaborate this, imagine that your social world is like this. You have some
fit in. Thus, you try at first to do things that they clearly value and for which they will
trying these things unless you are forced to or else find yourself in that rare situation
invisible youarenotsovulnerabletoshameorhumiliation.Ontheotherhand,thereare
and it has been  your expe rience that you r talents are not very highl y valued by others .
Indeed many others find your excellences comical or ridiculous  and have on occasion
The situation in thisstoryisafamiliarworry in politicalphilosophy.Thereitis
widelybelieved thatthesocialnatureofselfesteemgroundsadutyofjustice toarrange
social ins titutions in ways conducive  to people acquiring and maintaining selfesteem.
There is disagreement about precisely which arrangements of institutions satisfy this
duty, but wide agreement on the general criteria. Just arrangements do not shame or
humili ate anyone, at least not undese rvingly, and they make it possible for eve ryone to
find and participateinanassociationwheretheyandtheirtalents and accomplishments
canbeesteemedbylikemindedothers (calltheseesteemgroups).BorrowingfromJohn
Rawls (1971),callfreedom from undeservedshameandhumiliationandesteemgroups
Not eve ry theorist agrees to precisely the se criteria for the  social bases o f self
2 Itisalsocontroversialhowstringentthe
requireme nt to supply the  social bases o f selfes teem is  or how central  it is to justi ce.
significant weight. Imagine that, by virtue of the design of social institutions, specific
segments of society (women, say) are disproportionately vulnerable to the shame and
outsiderstatus justdescribed.Thevulnerabilityisa significantburden and disadvantage
Nowschools aresocialworldswiththeirownbasicsocialstructure,onethatcan
bemoreorlesssupportiveofselfesteem.Assuming that thesocialbasesofselfesteem
for school children are the same as those for adults, schools support and foster self
esteem just when they do not shame or humiliate children undeservedly and make it
possibleforallto enjoy anappropriateesteemgroup.Unfortunately,itseemsthatmany
school en vironments, like the soc ial world described  above, are not very s upportive of
selfesteem.Insomeways,thisseemsobvious.Childrenthemselves tendtomakethings
difficult by forming esteem groups that are incredibly exclusive and hostile toward
outsiders. Fo rch ildren who find themselves on  the outside , the experience c an be very
painful. Insofar as this is the case, however, it points to two important general ways
First, they can make efforts to ameliorate the 'popularity contest' between
children. This presumably is what advocates of strategies like Circle Time have been
trying to do d irectly. I think they are  right to, though it is no teworthy that, on the one
hand,notalldirectstrategiesneed tohavethischaracter,andsuchstrategiesmaynotbe
the best anyway. Take the first claim first. It seems to me, for instance, that normal
practices of punishing children who behave cruelly to others are at least as important,
though thismayseem tothreatentheselfesteemoftheculprit.However,asIwillargue
below, the threat to selfesteem of punishment is exaggerated. Second, because the
problem of fostering selfesteem socially is a systematic one, one deriving from the
design of social institutions, it needs a systematic solution. Consequently, the best
strategies may well be indirect ones setting up a school and classroom environment
minimiz ing occasion s for shame/humiliation and motivating  children to work together
collegially. This is more easily said than done, but that does not imply that teachers
should not try. Nordo esi tnecess arily imply, for example, that allc ompetition between
children must be avoided, for whether a loss is humiliating, say, depends on the
Second, the organization of welladvertised and funded extracurricular clubs,
beyond traditionaloneslikedebateclub, isanindependentwaytoworktowardaschool
in whichchildrenofdiversetalentscould findthemselves and theiraspirations affirmed
by those whose op inion rea lly matters, namel y those who sh are their interests. Wh at is
importantfromthestandpointofsupplyingthesocialbasesofselfesteem isthatthereis
The social nature of selfesteem, however, I believe has even more specific
implicationsfor certaindomainsofinstruction.Takephysicaleducation.Becauseof the
publicnature ofperformancein thisdomain,achild'sdegreeofexcellence init,orlack
thereof, is t ypically widel y availab le publicl y, not l east, to her pee rs. Consequently, in
humiliation, for it is precisely public exposure as inadequate or powerless that trigger
those feelings. Furthermore, the vulnerability here is particularly acute given the value
commonly placed on athletic excellence among both adults and children. As a
damaging educ ationally. For one thing, the child ha sno wlo stth e will top articipate in
athletics, which is a, if not the, primary avenue to lifelong fitness and health. Since
areimportantreciprocal selfesteembenefitsfromsportparticipationthatbear againon
confidence of those who participate benefits, while those receiving the benefits are
further motivated to participate. Children who withdraw thus cut themselves out of a
crucial avenueto fitness andahigherdegreeofwellbeing.Third,because sport figures
so large  in children's social s tatus, those who do not participate  are liable to withd raw
more generally from social life, particularly if they also do not excel in other socially
valued ways. But children in this situation are vulnerable, as the motivational claim
maintains, to lose the sort of basic confidence needed to take risks and confront
In many American schools, this situation seems needlessly exacerbated by the
institution of school sponsored intermural sport. Despite some progress, boy's sports
appear to remaindisproportionatly favored in the social worldof schools to both girl's
sports and no nathletic activities such as the arts.
3 But as a symbolic expression of the
with male sport, which as I have just argued, is problematic with regard to children's
Now the consequentialist argument maintains that efforts to foster selfesteem
impede the pursuitofotherhighpriorityaims,such as ahighlychallengingcurriculum.
However, relative to domains of instruction like physical education and the arts,
instruction that inculcates a lifelong desire for involvement is more important than
important co incidence between ins truction that wi lli nculcate a life of involvemen t and
that fostering selfesteem. Physical education instructors, for instance, will likely best
achieve  the aim of inculc ating a lifelong desi re for in volvement by pursuin g strategies
that minimize sh ame and humiliation and maximize inclusiveness , in other words, that
willfoster selfesteem.Furthermore, insofar as schoolinstitutions surroundingsportare
problematic in the way I have described, some aspects of the institution could be
modified to better support selfesteem with relative ease. No doubt performance in
physicaleducationwill always bepublic,thus rendering childrenparticularlyvulnerable
to shame/humiliation. Yet participation and hoopla surrounding sport could be made
more equal between boy's sports, girl's sports, and other nonacademic domains of
thebias toward sportin theschoolpopularitycontestandsoraising the probabilitythat
all chi ldren will st ay engaged in both athletics and the a rts. In turn , it is reason able to
Hence, in at least some domains of instruction, selfesteem is motivationally
important and susceptible to instruction without undue cost to the pursuit of other
importantaims.However,Iwould also like toargue that, in light ofthe social basesof
selfesteem, the requirements of instruction in academics and behavior also need not
Firstconsideracademics.Thesocialbasesofselfesteeminclude esteem groups.
Relative to the classroomcontext, this implies that teachersarefosteringselfesteem so
long astheymakeeffortstoensurethatallchildrenfeelwelcome,safe,andcanfind an
esteem group. Again, this aim may be achieved directly through activities like Circle
isthattheteachersfindways togetchildrentocooperatewithone anotherandengender
anenvironmentmakingcompetition safe. Second, critiquingstudents' workneednot be
particularly shame or humiliation producing. While criticism is often frustrating or
much as sh ame or humiliation. Mo reover, sha mean d humiliation tend to be rou sed by
publicexposure asinadequateorpowerless.Butacademicevaluationstendtobelargely
private, marks on a piece of paper easily concealed from others. Moreover, unlike
even exposure as inadequate here is not so much of a threat. Hence, contra the
consequentialist argument, instructing students academically and fostering selfesteem
Second, consider behavioral instruction. It is true, of course, that punishment
renders childrenhighly vulnerabletopublicexposure asinadequate andconsequentlyto
shameorhumiliation.Ofnecessity,punishmentstendtobepublicaffairs. However,and
first, as a matter of ordinary decency, teachers can and should avoid carrying out
punishmen ts that children are li kely to experience as humili ating. But where this is not
orhumiliations.Sincethereisnosocialresponsibilityto avoidthese,teachersinflicting
them cannot be charged with failing to foster selfesteem. Second, while systematic,
arbitrary experiences of shame or humiliation can lower selfesteem, presumably
punishments will not amount to systematic, arbitrary public shames/humiliations, but
deserved and temporary retributions for wrongs. Hence, the threat to selfesteem of
successful in school, especially in certain domains of instruction such as physical
education,andthateducators canseektoprovideits socialbaseswithouthinderingthe
pursuit of other high priority aims such as academic achievement. If so, facilitating
is not to su ggest that se lfesteem is a unifying aim of education or the highest prio rity
aim. Othe r aims play crucial roles and some, such as achievement, are presumably of
higher priorityinatleastsomecontexts,forinstance, theacademicone.Neitherisitto
imply that selfesteem facilitating education is a complete moral education, for good
4 Nevertheless,facilitatingselfesteem
There is a last objection that I have not addressed, namely Smith’s character
argument.Thisargumentclaimsthat we find low selfesteem personsperfectlylovable,
thus, we cannot coherently think that low selfesteem is something to be cured. I
an important educationalvalue.First, much hangsonwhetherourresponseto low self
esteempersonsismereloveorsomething morerobustlikeadmirationoresteem.Tosay
iflowselfesteemisindeed animpedimenttoachievement,as Ihaveargued,itcertainly
do what they can to help low selfesteem children through the process. If I am right,
doing this in anycase primarily requiresthatwedosomethingweought todoanyway,
1 For more extensive elaboration of attachment and its role in the development of self
esteem, see Sue Gerhardt's
Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby's brain
Part 2).
2 See, for example, James Tully's particularly strong requirements for social esteem in
Strange multiplicity: constitutionalism in an age of diversity
(1995, pp. 189191).
3 That male athletes have traditionally been favored in the school popularity contest is old
news investigated at length by James S. Coleman
et al
The adolescent society: The
social life of the teenager and its impact on education
4 See, for example, Kristjánsson (2007, p. 13) and chapter 2 of my dissertation
Nature and Importance of SelfRespect
Cigman, R. (2004) Situated SelfEsteem,
Journal of Philosophy of Education
, 38.1, pp. 91
Coleman, J.S., Johnstone, J.W.C. and Jonassohn, K. (1961)
The adolescent society: The social
life of the teenager and its impact on education
(New York, Free Press of Glencoe).
Cotterell, J. L. (1992) The Relation of Attachments and Supports to Adolescent WellBeing
and School Adjustment,
Journal of Adolescent Research
, 7.1, pp. 2842.
Duchesne, S., and Larose, S. (2007) Adolescent Parental Attachment and Academic
Motivation and Performance in Early Adolescence,
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
37.7, pp. 15011521.
Ferkany, M. (2006)
The Nature and Importance of SelfRespect
. PhD dissertation. University
of Wisconsin, Madison.
Gerhardt, S. (2004)
Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby's brain
Harter, S. (1999)
The construction of the self: a developmental perspective
(New York,
Guilford Press).
James, William. (1950) The Consciousness of the Self,
Principles of Psychology
, vol. 1 (New
York, Dover).
Kristjánsson, K. (2007) Justified SelfEsteem,
Journal of Philosophy of Education
, 41.2, pp.
Mecca, A., (1990)
Toward A State of Esteem: The Final Report of the California Task Force
to Promote SelfEsteem and Personal and Social Responsibility
(Sacramento: California
State Department of Education).
Rawls, J. (1971)
A Theory of Justice
(Harvard, Belknap Press).
Smith, R. (2002) Selfesteem: the kindly apocalypse,
Journal of Philosophy of Education
36.1, pp. 87100.
Smith, R. (2006) On Diffidence: The Moral Psychology of SelfBelief,
Journal of Philosophy of
, 40.1, pp. 5162.
Tully, J. (1995)
Strange multiplicity: constitutionalism in an age of diversity
Cambridge University Press).
United States Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Building SelfEsteem in
Children. [Online]. Available at:
0048/default.asp [accessed 2 January 2008].
... Undoubtedly, self-esteem plays a particularly important role in education and students' functioning at school. Self-esteem is a key element of self-confidence and the motivation that students need to engage in and carry out learning tasks (Ferkany, 2008). ...
... Our results also indicate that teachers should use individualized teaching methods that take into account students' high emotional sensitivity and proneness to anxiety, both of which may hinder their ability to cope in the educational space. This is important since proper organization of school institutions and the support they offer allows schools to socially increase students' self-esteem without compromising other high-priority goals, such as providing an ambitious educational program (Ferkany, 2008). ...
Full-text available
The problem of the present study was defined as follows: What personality characteristics were predictors of emotion understanding and self-esteem in students of visual arts high schools and general education high schools. The problems discussed in this article have important implications for the effective functioning of artistically gifted youth in the school environment and for the optimization of their development in various areas of activity. Students of visual arts and general education high schools (N = 440) aged 15–18 (M = 16.88, SD = 0.81) in Poland were surveyed. The participants completed Costa and McCrae’s NEO-FFI, Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (SES), and Matczak and Jaworowska’s Emotion Understanding Test (TRE). Enter regression analysis was conducted. The results showed that in the group of visual arts high school students neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness were significant predictors of self-esteem, while neuroticism and openness to experience were predictors of emotion understanding. In the group of high school students who pursued a general edu- cation curriculum, self-esteem was statistically significantly predicted by neuroticism and conscientiousness. Significant predictors of emotion understanding in this group of students included neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness. These findings demonstrate that the students functioned differently in the school setting depending on the educational curriculum they were following. The results of the present study can be used to formulate practical educational guidelines.
... The results of the study showed that teachers' social recognition is associated with teaching experience. Likewise, Ferkany (2008) observed that employees who have more experience perceived a high level of social recognition instead of those who have less experience. Contrarily, Kang, Twigg, and Hertzman (2010) described that social recognition of employees is not associated with their years of experience. ...
Full-text available
The study under the purpose was planned to examine the relationship of secondary level teachers' social recognition with their self-esteem. The study was descriptive and correlational by its nature as it aimed to render the perceptions of participants and correlation of variables. A multi-stage random sampling technique was adopted to pick the sample of study from population of secondary school teachers of the Punjab. At first stage four districts were selected randomly and at second stage 80 schools were selected and then five teachers from each selected schools were selected to make the total sample (N = 400) secondary school teachers. The data were collected from the selected secondary school teachers by using two questionnaires. The data were analyzed by applying statistical techniques as a mean score, independent sample t-test, Pearson "r" and One-way ANOVA, and post hoc tests to draw the results. It was concluded that there was weak and insignificant relationship existed between teachers' self-esteem and social recognition. So, it is recommended that there should be psychological practices of social recognition to associate with their self-esteem and needed to conduct research in Pakistani context. Pages: 103-109 ISSN (Print): 2789-441X ISSN (Online): 2789-4428
... after all, the most important determinant of educational attainment is ability, thereby, it is not logical to expect general self-esteem to contribute large proportion of the variance of subsequent academic achievement scores (emler, 2001). however, this paper is written based on a belief that an adequate self-esteem is significant in determining students' future behavior and further success (block & robbins, 1993;ferkany, 2008;humphrey, 2004;Kamayer-mueller et al., 2008;martin et al., 2005martin et al., , Von der haar, 2005. ...
Previous studies have shown that students’ self-esteem is affected by perceived teachers’ expectancy (PTE), which was derived from the students’ observation on teachers’ classroom behavior. It is also reported that students with higher academic achievements are likely to have higher level of general self-esteem compared to the other students in a school. Those findings were supported by symbolic interaction theory, which explained that PTE serves as a symbol for the high-performing students that they are expected to be better than the others. However, little research has been done in schools where teachers are likely to expect their students to achieve equally high or equally low. Aiming to investigate how locus of control (LoC) moderates the influence PTE on self-esteem, this study was conducted in a high-performance high school in Indonesia, where only students with high previous academic reports are accepted. Eight hundred participants were given three sets of questionnaires including Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Internal Control Index, and Perception of Teachers’ Behavior Scale. The results showed that the students’ LoC moderated the influence of their PTE on their self-esteem, where higher self-esteem was indicated by students with more internal LoC. In other words, when their teachers have equally similar expectancy towards everyone; students’ LoC takes over the role of PTE in forming their self-esteem. This finding leads to knowledge that internalizing students LoC is considered effective to improve students’ general self-esteem without jeopardizing their academic achievement. Further practical implications of the findings are discussed at the end of the paper. Key words: high-performing students, locus of control, perceived teachers’ expectancy, self-esteem, symbolic interaction theory, two-dimensional model of self-esteem.
... With this basis, schools should put self-esteem development a priority in their program (Ferkany, 2008). Self-esteem should not be primarily understood with its achievement but rather with the definition of ownership types. ...
Full-text available
This study aimed to analyze the thematic structure and trends in scientific publications discussing the relationship between curriculum development and self-esteem and provide a roadmap for future research investigating this topic. This study used systematic literature review (SLR) and bibliometric analysis (BA) to describe self-esteem-based curriculum development and reveal its bibliometric profile. The data were obtained from the 2012–2021 Scopus database by identifying the research on curriculum and self-esteem, so the keywords used are (“curriculum development” or “curriculum”) and (“self-esteem” or “self esteem”). The results show that the publication examining the curriculum and self-esteem leads to stable total publication. Countries contributing to this topic are the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and South Africa. Meanwhile, the universities mostly credited with high citations on this topic are Monash University, the Ohio State University, and Universidad de Malaga. This study discovers that most of the articles about curriculum and self-esteem discuss health sciences/medicine, psychology, and education. The results indicated that the structure and trends in thematic academic studies provide a roadmap for future studies investigating curriculum development and self-esteem. In this context, educational researchers should interconnect their scientific field with psychology, specifically self-esteem. Therefore, the development of a self-esteem-based curriculum can run well. This article attempted to gain insights into how research on curriculum and self-esteem has progressed using the systematic literature review and bibliometric analysis.
... The results of the study showed that teachers' social recognition is associated with teaching experience. Likewise, Ferkany (2008) observed that employees who have more experience perceived a high level of social recognition instead of those who have less experience. Contrarily, Kang, Twigg, and Hertzman (2010) described that social recognition of employees is not associated with their years of experience. ...
The study under the purpose was planned to examine the relationship of secondary level teachers’ social recognition with their self-esteem. The study was descriptive and correlational by its nature as it aimed to render the perceptions of participants and correlation of variables. A multi-stage random sampling technique was adopted to pick the sample of study from population of secondary school teachers of the Punjab. At first stage four districts were selected randomly and at second stage 80 schools were selected and then five teachers from each selected schools were selected to make the total sample (N = 400) secondary school teachers. The data were collected from the selected secondary school teachers by using two questionnaires. The data were analyzed by applying statistical techniques as a mean score, independent sample t-test, Pearson “r” and One-way ANOVA, and post hoc tests to draw the results. It was concluded that there was weak and insignificant relationship existed between teachers’ self-esteem and social recognition. So, it is recommended that there should be psychological practices of social recognition to associate with their self-esteem and needed to conduct research in Pakistani context.
... Коначно, зашто је изучавање самопоштовања важно? Феркани (Ferkany, 2008) тврди да је неговање самопоштовања, барем индиректно, генерално важан образовни приоритет и да у односу на одређене домене наставе, посебно физич-ко васпитање и уметност, школски васпитачи би требало да ставе бригу о самопоштовању међу своје приоритете. ...
The paper presents a study aimed at determining the connection between the use of the Internet and social networks and the level of adolescent self-esteem and self-assessment of their own qualities and abilities, as well as determining the correlation between the social network use with children's educational aspirations. Adolescents' attitudes towards people, fear of the future, their willingness to take risks, reading classic books and attitudes towards multimedia learning and reading were also detected. The research was conducted by examining the attitudes of adolescents aged 14 to 19 years. The data were obtained by processing N=599 questionnaires of a representative focused sample of adolescents - high school students in the Republic of Serbia. The research was conducted in 2021. Descriptive, correlation and regression analysis was used in data processing. Descriptive analysis showed that the lowest average score was achieved for the dimension related to reading classic books, and the highest for the dimensions of attitude towards people and fear of the future. Correlative analysis between the dimensions showed that self-esteem and the use of social networks are not related, but the more positive attitude towards education, the higher are standards and the more positive are attitudes towards people. A similar finding is in the regression analysis, which shows that what affects self-esteem is the value of one's own standards, the attitude towards people, as well as the fear of the future.
... 17 When an adolescent has poor self-concept, it goes a long way to determine the success in education and or skill acquisition that they engage in. 18 High self-concept has been noted to have a positive impact on job opportunities and gives them the leadership quality and acceptance among their peers. 10 Most time, what people turn out to be in their adulthood are results of what they have imbibed in adolescence. ...
Full-text available
Background and objectives: The understanding of adolescents about themselves affects their choices and actions when their health is concerned. This study assessed the relationship between family background, perceived self-concept and health seeking behaviour of adolescents. Methods: This was a prospective cross-sectional study involving three secondary schools in Ekiti State, South-western Nigeria. A total of 352 students were recruited through multistage random sampling technique. The Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire (PSC) was used to assess the adolescents' personal self-concept while the health seeking behaviour was adapted from the Botsha Bophelo Adolescent Health Study (BBAHS) adapted questionnaire. The family background was sought from the respondents. Demographic variables were described as means and standard deviations. Categorical variables were reported as frequency distribution and proportions with the Pearson correlation test used to assess the relationship of relevant variables with self-concept. Results: There was negative correlation between the adolescents' family social class and their autonomy self-concept (r = -0.117; p<0.029). Out of the 42% who had any form of ill-health, 29.6% had sought for medical attention, 8.5% were sexually exposed, 4% and 4.8% were screened for HIV and the use of contraception respectively. Having been hospitalized in the past six months related with their general self-concept (r = -0.124; p<0.02) and sense of fulfillment (r = -0.118; p<0.027). Use of cannabis negatively correlated with general self-concept (r = -0.132; p<0.013) and honesty self-concept (r = -0.127; p<0.017). Sexual exposure correlated negatively with emotional self-concept (r = -0.116; p<0.03). Conclusion: From this study, the socioeconomic class of the family of the adolescents affected their individuality. In addition, adolescents with high self-concept will not easily seek for appropriate medical attention.
... As a result, self-esteem has been theorized and investigated by numerous researchers. Self-esteem according to Ferkany (2008) refers to the positive or negative feelings one has for oneself, which could manifest in a number of ways, but especially in an individual's self-confidence. While Self-esteem, according to Rosenberg (1965a), is one's total assessment of one's thoughts and feelings regarding oneself, as well as the positive or negative attitude toward oneself. ...
The study investigated the influence of self-esteem on academic performance of male and female college students and established relationships between self-esteem and academic performance. Specifically, it described the demographic characteristics of students and analysed the relationship between self-esteem and students’ attitude of male and female college students in the study area. Descriptive correlation type of research designed was used to sample 36 male and 66 females with the use of Krecie and Margan (1970) sample size formula. Structured questionnaire was used for data collection and the response rate was about 85.7%. Data collected were described with frequency counts, percentages, mean and standard deviation while the t-statistic in regression was used for data analysis. Among the results, it was found that more female enrolment was recorded in the study area. Respondents were found in their adolescent ages and students with the required experience were sampled for the study. It was found that self-esteem never influenced the academic performance of the male students but it did for the female because their perception had influence on their self-esteem. Therefore, any intervention that will be geared towards improving academic performance of male and female students must be based on their self-esteem with the use of gender less. This will allow stakeholders’ interventions to produce desired effects. Parents and government should design programs that will attract and encourage more male enrolment and work on improving their self-esteem through counselling unit of the College.
Self‐esteem is traditionally regarded as an important human good. But it has suffered a number of injuries to its good name. Critics allege that endeavours to promote self‐esteem merely foster narcissism or entitlement, and urge that we redirect our efforts elsewhere. I argue that such criticisms are symptomatic of a normative decline in how we think and theorize about self‐esteem rather than a defect in the construct itself. After exposing the shortcomings of alternative proposals, I develop an account of self‐esteem that reflects what its supporters have in mind: a valuable form of self‐appraisal worth fostering in others and ourselves.
This study determined the mediating effect of school ethical climate on the relationship between interpersonal support and teacher affective attitude of the public secondary school teachers in Sto.Tomas, Davao del Norte. This study will utilize quantitative non-experimental descriptive correlational research with a sample of 300 public school teachers. The method used to collect data is stratified random sampling. Sets of adapted survey questionnaires were used in obtaining data from the respondents who were subjected to content validity and reliability analysis. The data were analyzed using Mean, Pearson-r, Regression Analysis, and Sobel z-test. The result revealed that the level of interpersonal support, teacher affective attitude, and school ethical climate of public school teachers all scored high and a significant relationship existed between these variables. The study determined the mediating effect of school ethical climate on the relationship between interpersonal support and teacher affective attitude in public secondary school teachers of Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, and there was no significant mediating effect of school ethical climate on the relationship between interpersonal support and teacher affective attitude.
Full-text available
Pervasive though it is in modern life, the concept of self-esteem is often viewed with distrust. This paper departs from an idea that was recently aired by Richard Smith: that we might be better off without this concept. The meaning of self-esteem is explored within four ‘homes’: the self-help industry, social science, therapy and education. It is suggested that the first two use a ‘simple’ concept of self-esteem that indeed we are better off without. This concept eliminates the distinction between truthfulness and delusion, and relies on a chimera of quantifiability. The much richer concept of situated self-esteem is explored, and it is argued that low self-esteem in children (often narcissistically disguised) should command the attention of educators. Teachers should address this through education and communication, and reject the idea (prevalent in the USA) of boosting self-esteem through a content-free curriculum.
In the inaugural set of Seeley Lectures, the distinguished political philosopher James Tully addresses the demands for cultural recognition that constitute the major conflicts of today: supranational associations, nationalism and federalism, linguistic and ethnic minorities, feminism, multiculturalism and aboriginal self government. Neither modern nor post-modern constitutionalism can adjudicate such claims justly. However, by surveying 400 years of constitutional practice, with special attention to the American aboriginal peoples, Tully develops a new philosophy of constitutionalism based on dialogues of conciliation which, he argues, have the capacity to mediate contemporary conflicts and bring peace to the twenty-first century. Strange Multiplicity brings profound historical, critical and philosophical perspectives to our most pressing contemporary conflicts, and provides an authoritative guide to constitutional possibilities in a multicultural age.
This study examined the relationship between adolescents 'adjustment and their supportive relations with significant others. It linked the Bowlby concept of social attachment with that of social support (derived from social network theory) in describing the exchange content of adolescents' interactions with parents, peer-friends, and adult nonkin. Within each of these three support systems, only moderate relationships were found between adolescents' number of supports and the strength of attachments to members of the respective support systems. Fewer relationships were found between supports and adjustment than between attachments and adjustment. For both sexes, the strength of attachments to parents and to teachers was associated with young people's positive feelings about themselves. Network ties providing informational support (encouragement, guidance, and advice) were related to girls'and boys'academic outcomes in different ways: among girls, support from parents and adult nonkin was related to academic self-concept, whereas among boys, support from friends was negatively related to self-concept and educational plans.
Acknowledgements. Permissions Acknowledgements. List of Figures. Foreword by Steve Biddulph Introduction to the Second Edition. Part One - The Foundations: Babies and their brains 1. Before we meet them 2. Back to the beginning 3. Building a brain 4. Corrosive Cortisol. Conclusion to Part 1. Part 2 - Shaky Foundations and their Consequences 5. Trying Not to Feel 6. Melancholy Baby 7. Active Harm 8. Torment 9. Original Sin. Part 3 - Too Much Information, Not Enough Solutions 10. 'If all else fails, hug your teddy bear' 11. Birth of the Future. Bibliography. Index.
In this study, the links between adolescents' attachment to parents and academic motivation and performance were examined while considering problem behaviors and perceived teacher support as potential mediators of those links. Participants were 121 early adolescents who completed the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA) to assess the quality of attachment to their mothers and fathers. Adolescents' attachment to both parents was positively associated with academic motivation. These significant links were mediated by adolescents' perceptions of support from teachers. Results are discussed in light of the different mechanisms that can relate attachment quality to adolescents' academic motivation and performance.
This paper develops a thread of argument from previous contributions to this journal by Richard Smith and Ruth Cigman about the educational salience of self-esteem. It is argued—contra Smith and Cigman—that the social science conception of self-esteem does serve a useful educational function, most importantly in undermining the inflated self-help conception of self-esteem that has commonly been transposed to the educational arena. Recent findings about a lack of significant correlation between low global self-esteem and relevant educational variables help us to focus on the type of self-esteem that does matter in the classroom: justified domain-specific self-esteem, in which the chief domains in question are the school subjects and students' self-respect. Moreover, this paper suggests that low self-confidence—which is a real problem for many students—may often be mistaken for low self-esteem.