Is it right to inflate adolescence self-esteem and not worry about academics? Is it right to not worry about self-esteem and focus solely on academics?
What is right?
When it comes to moral development and self-identity, we must be on our toes and in tune to how we are educating our future generations. According to (Stossel, 2009), 90% of our school systems are failing but claim that they are above average. These schools are focusing their resources on teaching students how to think highly of themselves and maintain a high self-esteem.
What is self-esteem? Self-esteem is an affective reaction-an overall judgment of self-worth that includes feeling confident and proud of yourself as a person (Woolfolk, p. 97). We all need a positive self-esteem to maintain a good experience in adolescence. Students are subject to stages where they are learning their place in the world and how they fit in. Moral development and identity does matter and it is important that we as educators are aware of these stages. Moral identity allows for the child to know from right and wrong and how to feel during different situations.
With the technology revolution, we have seen a boom in social networking and even cyber bullying. During this time, I think it is more important than ever to be focused on moral development and identity, especially in the classroom. As adolescences’ grow, according to Piaget’s theory, an individual experiences puberty, sexual maturity, and girls reach their max height. During all of these physical changes, children are still expected to meet educational and emotional needs. By letting a child have individuality in the classroom, we have allowed them to meet those needs.
Some research has shown that schools spend most of their resources on building self-esteem in their students by singing songs or attending classes (Stossel, 2009). As an educator we must be careful of too much praise in the classroom because it can detriment their future experiences. By giving a student too much praise, we are not preparing them for real life situations that may occur later in life. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that we have to be facilitators in these situations and must provide our students with the utmost respect and tender, love and care, but we also have to help them find their identity. It is okay to be great at some things and not be able to do other things. I think that is what makes an individual an individual. In a child’s later experiences, the world may not be as fair and we must be able to prepare them for those experiences. This helps children to address identity and be able to morally judge situations themselves
It is important to teach students at a young age to have a high self-esteem and it should be monitored as they progress through school. According to Rachel Kessler (2000) in her book, The Soul of Education: Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion, and Character at School, she described the need for students to feel cared about and connected, to be creative and joyful, to have a sense of purpose, and to believe they can exceed the expectations of others. According to Kohlberg’s theories, children in these adolescence years are in their conventional stage and are tuned to what is expected of them by teachers, parents, and adults (Woolfolk, p. 100). It is our job to maintain this positive focus and continue that they are creating good moral decisions through compassion and encouragement. We can and need to do this in the classroom and it will allow them to successfully be able to tackle real life situations that may occur in their future endeavors.
So, why is moral development important in the classroom? Because it allows students to be individuals, learn how to consider others’ viewpoints and their relationships with others when making decisions, and helps us as educators set them up to succeed.
Kessler, R. (2000). The soul of education: helping students find connection, compassion, and character at school. ASCD.
Stossel, J. (2009). Feel Good About Failure 1 & 2. YouTube. Received on September 19, 2013 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTfwH_DYWUo
Woolfolk, A.E. (2013). Educational psychology (12th Ed). Pearson Education.