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30 yearsof wasted self-esteem

RESEARCH is quite clear that teachers have no impact on pupil self-esteem. What matters is the direction of pupils' motivation, Alan McLean, a principal psychologist in Glasgow, told heads.

Self-esteem was irrelevant and a non-issue. "But if for the past 30 years you have been trying to nurture self-esteem, you will be devastated by that," Mr McLean said.

Mr McLean said teachers often underestimated their influence over pupils and could do damage by their approach. They were never neutral. Relationships between teacher and child were vital and staff had to find time to build them. They had to get to know their pupils and show they valued them.

"The judgmental, personalised confidence-crushers are the biggest problem I see in schools," Mr McLean said. Male teachers had a particular difficulty.

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