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Self-Esteem The roots of the self-esteem movement go back to the later nineteenth century, where they

intertwined with larger notions of children's vulnerability and the need for adult protection and support. Most of the psychologists associated with the CHILD STUDY movement specifically discussed the concept of self-esteem as a key component in successful child rearing. Progressive-era educators used the idea as well in seeking a supportive school environment. But it was only in the 1960s that this long-established belief of experts won popular and institutional backing as a way to reconcile academic commitment with parental concerns for childhood frailty and for the special value of their own children. The 1880s through 1930s JOHN DEWEY and William James were among the early psychologist proponents of the importance of the self. Dewey discussed "intuition of self" in his seminal 1886 work, Psychology, using knowledge of self as the talisman for knowledge gains in general. Selfhood was, in this view, essential to freedom. But it was James who, in 1892, first used the term self-esteem with an explicit scientific definition. A key task in socializing children, in James's view, involved helping them gain the capacity to develop "self" and, with it, the capacity to adapt to different social settings with appropriate projections of self. Selfesteem, more specifically, involved the kind of perceptions that, properly honed, were crucial to achievement and success. The popularization of psychology and the growing notion that children often needed expert help brought concerns about self-esteem to greater attention during the 1920s and 1930s. If children needed a sense of self to operate successfully, but if children were also vulnerable, it was certainly possible that special measures might be necessary to assure that the mechanism (the self) was in working order. The 1950s to the Present During the 1950s and 1960s the connection between self-esteem and supportive school programs was fully forged. A clear symptom, as well as a cause of further awareness, was a growing spate of expert studies on the subject. Stanley

in 1967. Thus in 1952. the subject was extremely complicated–three points shone through. Second. Levels of DISCIPLINE. and marital stability all registered in a child's emerging concept of self-worth. family affection. self-esteem was vitally important to a well-adjusted. high-functioning child or adult. Sidonie Gruenberg wrote.Coopersmith. and also very practical problems in dealing with the surge in population due to the baby boom. as children suffered from crowded classrooms." The self-esteem movement served as an adjustment between school commitments and worries about overburdening children. While experts debated the precise correlatives of self-esteem–in their eyes. 45). with the rise of service-sector jobs that depended on people skills. This confidence is hard for children to develop and there are many experiences that may shake it" (p. identified the link between self-esteem and frailty. that is. however. and severe punishment result in lowered self-esteem. He has to have confidence in himself as an individual. rejection. Now. which was linked to the rising divorce rate. The approach was in interesting contrast to Gruenberg's voluminous writings in the 1930s. self-esteem played a crucial role in school success. And finally. a child has to feel that he is a worthwhile person. This conclusion was amply prepared for by previous generations of scientific writing. self-esteem was crucially affected by what parents did to children. Under such conditions they have fewer experiences of love and success and tend to become generally more submissive and withdrawn (though occasionally veering to the opposite extreme of aggression and domination)"(p. the skills needed in salesmanship or in maneuvering in management bureaucracies. As Coopersmith put it. she . "Ability and academic performance are significantly associated with feelings of personal worth. It also arose at a time of significant rethinking about the preconditions of adult success. noting the "indications that in children domination. 192). In addition. First and most obviously. where the subject received little explicit comment. As early as 1950. enhanced discussions of self-confidence and the need for explicit parental support were becoming standard segments in the childrearing manuals. the movement also reflected a reduction in confidence in the middle-class home environment. "To value his own good opinion.

Proponents argued that when involved students were compared with control groups participation in the self-esteem programs reduced discipline problems in the schools and improved academic performance. Programs typically focused on the importance of providing children a wide range of activities so that they could gain a sense of achievement or mastery. Self-esteem. whatever their strictly academic talents. compared to other nations . 193)." Here. clearly. children might demonstrate skills that would not come to light if they were merely called upon to recite facts about the same character. and a more flexible approach to discipline was urged on parents. He needs real and lasting self-respect if he is to develop" both integrity and a durable capacity to achieve (p. The application of self-esteem concepts in the schools from the 1960s onward involved a number of specific programs and a more general reorientation. History or literature courses added often-elaborate role-playing exercises to reading and discussion. or in participating in environmental efforts. with a particular plea that children be encouraged through the mistakes they made. By playing a historical character. It was less clear why overall American academic achievement levels continued to falter (for example. It was also crucial that most of these additional exercises were not graded. "We must not let the mistakes and failures shatter our faith in the child… . students would "have a reason to enjoy and a recipe for personal success.gave extensive attention to the need for parents to display pride in their children. Thus the Challenge Program in California involved high school students in tutoring grade-schoolers. again in the interests of encouraging a sense of competence at all levels. Another set of self-esteem exercises involved a growing emphasis on "service learning. The rationale was central to the self-esteem approach: through these nonacademic activities. students could directly contribute to the community while also building an opportunity to display an individual capacity to perform." The approach was fascinating in its effort to provide alternatives to academic competence and competitiveness. began in the home. in working in a historical society. and even more fascinating in its assumptions that school must be leavened by nonacademic exercises. Thus many schools enhanced standard lessons with new opportunities for self-expression.

however. BIBLIOGRAPHY Coopersmith. Instead of grading students through conventional tests alone. Gruenberg. The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. portfolio programs allowed them to offer a collection of different kinds of expression in the subject area. The portfolio movement also included some self-esteem justifications as well.that did not stress self-esteem) despite the growing utilization of self-esteem activities. 1965. H. than castigating bad. The Parents' Guide to Everyday Problems of Boys and Girls. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Rosenberg. given self-esteem needs. Some education authorities argued essentially that rewarding good behavior was far more useful. Self-esteem notions and activities were often criticized. NJ: Princeton University Press. self-esteem ideas strongly influenced many teachers. from art to computer graphics. San Francisco: W. although it had a number of other justifications. New York: Hill and Wang. Morris. 1967. so that various learning styles could be accommodated with equal access to self-esteem. while helping to reconcile parents to the demands of schooling by providing some buffer between strict academics and the psychological development of their children. Through most of the final third of the twentieth century. See also: Child Psychology. Freeman. and movements to develop more rigorous testing procedures in the 1990s represented something of a counterattack. and even some athletic coaches. 1958. Sidonie. Princeton. . And self-esteem concerns had a further impact on the concept of grading. Emotional Life. Thus teachers were urged to add positive comments on all student work. Self-esteem arguments also entered into recommendations for teacher behavior. in addition to (and perhaps instead of) critical observations. Child-Rearing Advice Literature. probably contributing substantially to grade inflation. Stanley.

Anxious Parents: A History of Modern Child-rearing in America. Peter N. such . He concluded that your opinion of yourself is influenced by family. either positive or negative. Conceiving the Self (1979). Rosenberg’s research led him to believe that self-esteem was an attitude we have about ourselves. Please. who was one of the first pioneers to see a connection between self-esteem and success. and V. culture and your relationships. He is known all over the world for his work on self-esteem and self-concept. His research techniques included large-scale surveys to explore the factors which influence self-esteem." Education 119: 99–105. Additional tests and quizzes in my new ebook Morris Rosenberg was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland from 1975 until his death in 1992. 2003. M.Stearns. Jianjun. Much of Rosenberg’s work was done with adolescents. each with four possible answers from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. Falcinella. His books include Society and the Adolescent’s Self. 1996. Rosenberg was one of the earliest major contributors to the history of self-esteem. He has written and edited many books and articles. Social Psychology of the Self-Concept (1982). Earlier contributors include William James. Betty Greathose. click here for the test. "An Empirical Assessment of Self-Esteem Enhancement. Wang.Image (1965). He received his PhD from Columbia University in 1953 and also had positions at Cornell University and the National Institute of Mental Health before accepting the position at the University of Maryland. New York: New York University Press. society. which is a simple test of 10 questions. One of the works he is most famous for is the book Society and the Adolescent’s Self-Image. His work examined how social structure influences self-esteem. Rosenberg Self-Esteem Test The Rosenberg self-esteem test is probably the most commonly used and best known measuring tool for self-esteem. It was designed in 1965 by Morris Rosenberg and is still being used today. and The Unread Mind: Unraveling the Mystery of Madness (1992) By far his most well-known work is the Rosenberg self-esteem test. He was able to identify some of the factors that affect adolescent self-esteem.

Coopersmith is the author of the book The Antecedents to Self-Esteem. Rosenberg and Coopersmith are considered probably the most influential researchers in the field of self-esteem. .as social class. Coopersmith concluded that this type of parenting often led to children who grew into successful and productive adults. It has been used for both men and women and both adolescents and adults. He concluded that parenting methods and tactics used by teachers were two of the most important factors influencing children and adolescents and their level of self-esteem. but set limits. religion. The Rosenberg self-esteem test has been translated into more than 50 languages. Its validity has been proven among many different sample groups of people. ethnic background and family structure. Coopersmith followed up with his conclusions of a strong link between parenting style and self-esteem. Rosenberg’s work got the attention of policy makers in the field of educational reform who wanted to solve social problems and improve academic performance. Coopersmith concluded that children with high self-esteem often had parents who were loving and attentive. The Rosenberg self-esteem test was followed shortly thereafter by the work of Stanley Coopersmith. It is a tool for selfanalysis that has truly withstood the test of time. Other efforts to measure self-esteem are usually compared to Rosenberg’s scale.