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Self-esteem

An editorial in The Times (April 13, 1995) dismissed as "woolly, simplistic and corrupt" (Chris Woodhead's words) the progressive teaching philosophy of the 1960s which "puts self-esteem above achievement". The naive foolishness of that statement has at least been redeemed by your editorial (March 8) where you suggest that "the way to improve many children's behaviour is not to send in 'hit squads' but to raise their self-esteem".

But what a crazy alternative: to have well-behaved pupils with lots of self-esteem but who achieve nothing; or high achievers with low self-esteem and lots of misbehaviour.

Fortunately reality is simpler. Treating children with some respect, so that they respect themselves and others; making them feel that they are capable of achieving, so that there is some point to effort; involving them in decisions about their work so that they feel some responsibility; this is likely both to increase their performance and decrease their misbehaviour.

PHILIP GRIFFITHS 51A Cobden Street Wollaston Stourbridge, West Midlands

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