Building self-esteem

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I am sick and tired of the widespread reaction against social justice and self-esteem building. I grew up in a pedagogy of emancipation, premised on building self-esteem and helping the victims.

And now what I hear in this forum? Ironies about students' self-esteem, visceral reactions with the message "Stop whining!", and gestalt therapy-inspired references to stopping the "Poor me" games.

After 15 years of teaching along emancipatory lines, I found myself surrounded by individuals who would better leave academia and go express their Darwinist brand of cynicism in the corporate world.

Please look up Darwin before you invoke him.  Darwin stated that it was the most ADAPTABLE that would survive, not merely the strongest.  I assume you are implying the strongest.

And as for sympathizing with students, I have watched (as a student myself) others prey on professors that soothed their egos and allowed them to get away with silly excuses and crying fits.  And those students laughed behind their professors backs, talking about what suckers they were.

Call it what you will, but a student is ultimately responsible for their grade and their performance.  And no where on this forum have I seen anyone advocate dragging a student down or insulting them or attempting to create low self-esteems.

IMHO, I think you are being overdramatic.

CC adjunct:
I am what most people would term a bit of a softie.  I feel genuine compassion for my students, and I sympathize with them.  I hold them to high standards, but I do everything I can to help my students attain those standards.  I never change a grade for a student that did not earn a higher grade (pretty much only when there was an objective grading error), and you don't have to let students get away with things to help boost their self-esteem.  In my experience, letting students get away with things actually hurts their confidence in the subject, since they end up feeling like they got the grade just because they lie well as opposed to earning it.  

My students are not 100% responsible for their grade and performance.  If I do not teach well, they are less likely to succeed.  If I am cold to them, they will not realize that their success means something to both of us.  I have numbers to back up the efficacy of my approach.  I have a class with a maximum of 24 students, with 26 enrolled.  I have not had a single student drop the class, and their exam grades are amazing.  These are students with lives, families, and work.  These are students that came in to the class thinking that they would never be able to handle the subject.  I give harder exams than other adjuncts, but I get better evaluations because I care about my students and do everything I can to teach them.  

I have seen students transformed over a semester, changing into individuals that can succeed.  These are students other people have given up on, because they never bothered to figure out that these students don't realize they are capable of learning.  I think of the good I do for my students and the joy I get from knowing them, and I can't imagine not caring.  I guess, though, that some faculty believe that caring about students means that you are weak, but I find I have to be strong to deal with the challenges of a class full of students.  There are risks for caring, but they do not have to include a lower level of education.  The risks I have found are much more personal.  Teaching at a CC has brought me students that had heart attacks (a nice grandmother coming back to school to motivate her granddaughter to succeed), others that had significant others die in the Iraq, ones with children struggling with unbelievable health problems, and a large variety of other health and finance situations.  These are hard to deal with, but I wouldn't trade these students for traditional students unless I had to.

And I still think Rita was being overdramatic.

But as for the other, I have found good advice on this thread having to do with listening to students.  Along with pedagogy.  I have altered the way I teach and perceive my role in the classroom.  But I still will not change my opinion on that one thing, students are ultimately responsible for their grades.  There are minor exceptions to this (altered expectations over the course of class).  However, once they graduate high school, turn the magical 18, we treat them as adults legally, why is it we can't seem to do this academically.  I know of a lot of people who graduated college and did well with many professors who were sink-or-swim types.  And it helped their self-esteem to know they were responsible for themselves.  In the classroom, I realized that I am the one making the choice to study or not, to go to the professor or not, to go to a tutor or not.  

In fact, although I am in science now, I started out in the humanities and left exactly because of the attitude of "raising everyone's self-esteem."  I had multiple professors who couldn't criticize work because they felt it sent to much negativity to a student.  Well, what if the work is bad.  I know mine was because when I switched to science, the very first comment I got was "who taught you to write?"  I couldn't write well, because all of my essays came back to me with wonderful comments, with the criticisms buried so deep in them I didn't see them.  I felt and still feel I was short-changed by this type of pedagogy.  And quite frankly, I get to many non-majors that can't take any type of criticism without coming into my office and explaining to me at great length how their fill-in-the-blank professor thought their writing was great and that I was too hard on them.  If you can't communicate ideas effectively and argue your point effectively, then that student will not do well once they leave academics, where the business world is not kind about expressing their dissatisfaction at an employee's work.

Sorry about this rant, I don't want to offend people, but I see to many people that can't write, can't reason, and think it's my fault when they get a poor grade.  When did we start blaming the professors instead of asking, "Are student's doing everything they can to make the grade they seem to think they deserve?"

"pedagogy of emancipation"

What the hell does that mean?


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