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Self-esteem is a psychological term describing the state of having in oneself:

  • a positive attitude
  • a feeling of value in oneself
  • belief in one's own abilities[1]
  • belief in one's own competence.[2]

Liberal educators often disconnect self-esteem from achievement, focusing more on developing self-esteem than on actually ensuring their students actually learn anything. Liberal educators commonly adopt politically correct policies in their classrooms in order to protect the self-esteem of women, minorities,[3] and other groups. However, a study conducted by the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem found that higher self-esteem doesn't correspond with higher intellectual performance. Also, having higher self-esteem doesn't produce correct moral outcomes such as lowered teen pregnancy or reduced delinquency.[4]

Educators in California believed that programs designed to increase young students' self-esteem would lead to increases in academic achievement. However, they did not bother to check this assumption. Martin Seligman criticized them for this:

  • Seligman says self-esteem is a byproduct of competence, and that attempts to increase competence by buoying self-esteem are not just ineffective but even counterproductive. (Others have noted that juvenile delinquents and dropouts have higher-that-average self-esteem.)

See also


  1. Traditional social-psychiatric theory argues that productive people will enjoy life, feel good about themselves, earn the respect of friends and co-workers, and feel connected with their families and society. Paul Cameron, Ph. D.
  2. "Self-esteem" Mental/Emotional Health at BBC Health; accessed 24 December 2007
  3. "Barack Obama's "African American Education Initiative" creates a new Federal bureaucracy. One of its goals will be to stop disciplinary action against black public school students who misbehave."
  4. Education's self-esteem hoax (Christian Science Monitor, October 24, 2002)