Self-esteem is not…

self esteemBuilding self-esteem is NOT about creating false expectations that the world will be easy.

It IS about showing kids that they have talents and can please people.

Building self-esteem is NOT about cultivating self-centered kids who expect the world to bow to them.

It IS about healing children’s hearts that have been broken by broken families.

Self-esteem is NOT about deluded them about competition and making them think they will win without effort, discipline and vision.

It IS about fostering effort, discipline and vision in people who have none.

Self-esteem is NOT about flattery or false praise.

It IS about finding positives in a world accustomed to negatives.

I’m a believer in self-esteem building. My close friend came from a very broken home. I can’t print the words he used to describe his parents. He had an old school teacher who ran his classroom like a dictatorship. As much of a jerk as he was, the teacher left my friend with a golden nugget. At the end of the semester he said. “It’s too bad you waste so much talent.”

My friend’s take-away? For the first time in his life, he got the notion that he was good at something. He possessed “so much talent.”

This prompted him to try to get into an advanced writing class, to which he was admitted. Ultimately he went to college, the first in his extended family to do so.

That is what self-esteem building is about.

Individual attention works wonders

schoolboy-his-teacher-reading-class-6081096To make teaching efficient, we bring in experts and pay them. To take advantage of this, we put quite a number of kids all in the same classroom to learn from expert, commonly called a “teacher.”

But the more kids we put in the classroom, the lesser individual attention each kid gets. And what makes a difference in education is that individual touch. One of my followers calls it a “connection” with the student.

There needs to be human compassion, empathy in the classroom. Otherwise, we could just put on a film to teach with a robot supervisor. This would not work.

A human being is needed to find the level of the student — not the level at which the student SHOULD be, but the level at which s/he IS. I’ve always made it my aim to help students to improve. Even if they don’t do well on standardized tests and are subsequently catalogued as “below level,” I feel an inner satisfaction that I helped a fellow human being rise to a new level.

Who were the teachers who most inspired me? The ones who treated me as a person, not a just another pupil in the classroom. The ones who met me at my level, made me believe in myself and helped me climb a rung. They didn’t complain at me for not being smarter than I was.

Let’s keep the human element in the class!

Prideful teachers who discourage

brilliant professor

The Chinese prof taught so fast that, I’m sure, only he understood himself. I think he was more interested in displaying his own brilliance than helping college student learn. He scolded students for any sincere mistake. It was intimidating and discouraging. Yet the Chinese department was renowned at this community college. No doubt he was proud of that. Anyone genius enough to survive this prof would achieve excellence in Chinese.

Though the department was famed for quality, I don’t think his teaching method was good. It is the job of teachers to inspire and help, not discourage and humiliate.

I have made it my aim to motivate as much as I teach, to be patient with struggling students. I am constantly searching for the joyful “click moment,” when the student “gets it” and smiles with pleasure that a previously incomprehensible subject now becomes “a piece of cake.”

If you’re impressed with your own brilliance, if you’re aim to to exhibit your own genius, teaching is not the profession for you. Because teaching is about them, not you. It’s about students learning, not teachers teaching.