For a couple of decades, we thought that if we made kids feel good about themselves, they would accomplish more. I was in college, preparing to become a teacher, when I was taught this concept. Everyone gets a prize just for participating. Don't forget to have lots of stickers available. Catch them being good. These were the things we were taught, and I really believed it. However, after I had been teaching for a while, I started noticing that what really caused kids to feel good about themselves is true achievement. Their self-esteem absolutely soars when they accomplish something extraordinarily challenging. I was reminded of this today when I met with a supervisor. We were discussing what I had recently accomplished at work, and how my talents could best be utilized in our organization. I had the opportunity to reflect on what I had done throughout my career, and how those accomplishments would lead to future success. After the meeting, I suddenly felt great. I was inspired, and hopeful, and ready to take on the world. It reminded me of how we need to inspire our students and our own kids. Provide them with challenging opportunities, support them in their efforts toward success, and help them reflect on true accomplishments. You will notice they suddenly walk a little taller, smile a little more, and look for ways to help others achieve the same feeling. Stickers just won't do that.
Janine Walker Caffrey writes about reading, education and a few other topics related to happiness and life in general.