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Elaine King & David Boulton - Self-Esteem 6
thread order - DB in blue (1st), Elaine in black (2nd), DB in this color (3rd)

At 09:31 PM 3/16/02 -1000, you wrote:

Elaine - you are cohering for me - coming in ever more clear and very beautifully so. I WILL BE IN THIS COLOR

Thanks for the thanks, David. My passion for the subject of education is endless, since it started in a one-room country school in 1946 and has been tested through every movement that came along through the years.
I am well acquainted with John Vasconcellos hard work in the area of self-esteem and have been rooting for him all the way. I have corresponded with a friend of his, Carl Rogers, and even made my way through the results of John's research, The Social Importance of Self-Esteem. I was sorry it couldn't have been more definitive; people are so hard to convince, especially with the kinds of misunderstandings that surfaced in the New York Times articles. So many people came out of that era believing self-esteem could be "glued on," * and that's where it got bogged down, in my view.
Hope you don't mind if I break up your message to respond to a few specific points. Not at all
2) we must help children grow through this great barrier reef by supporting their inside-out learning within the actual happening of negative to self feelings and thoughts. To do this parents and teachers need to have an inside-out orientation inversion - they have to stop thinking they have something to teach (out here from me/us) that is more important then how the child is actually participating in their learning (inside-out from within them) - it is I believe this very point that is the glue that holds together the framework in which the self-disesteeming assumptions take roots and get so well reinforced.
I fully agree with that assessment, but every movement I have seen so far, and am seeing now (I am very closely in touch with teachers now in the system), keeps heading in the opposite direction. I share your frustration with what has happened AND I think we need to learn into bringing this into social political focus. I am not so sure that 'self-esteem' is THE fulcrum of getting us to 'inside-out'. I am more inclined to think that the pathway lies in the economic value associated with educational success. The case I want to make, in addition to the self-esteem, reading and other works, is that purely in economic (cost of schooling, life incomes,...) and academic performance (test scores and gpas) terms, the best and most cost-efficient /optimal way to facilitate the learning of: X (whatever 'X' is) is to resource 'students' in their inside-out participating in learning about 'X'.  The orientation inversion has powerful economic advantages. I am in this for the spirit of children AND I believe there is miraculously powerful potential for alignment between those that care about money and performance and those that care about deep well being - they both end up in the same place: learning to learn from the inside-out. I want to demonstrate that in ways that act like spark plugs in the ignition system of the inversion.
I believe so strongly that the child who is valued, not shamed, from day 1 for his or her every expression of affect, feeling and thought is the child who takes the "vaccination" of self-esteem with him/her into relationships with others and into situations that others may find to be "rejecting." 
Its not just the pervasive lack of being shamed. We will be shamed. We will experience shame regardless of other's intentions. The question is how will we learn to participate in our shame so as to not be co-opted by shame - to feel it and see it and know it without getting lost in or become subject to it? (same with fear and the other affects)
Yes, we will be shamed and we are being shamed. It's presently the way of the world. Teachers use shame liberally as a behavior modification technique and because the "vaccination" you spoke of hasn't taken place, it works. And in the process, the minds of our children are being retarded rather than inspired and expanded, as the research on rejection and lower I.Q. scores suggested.  That's why I feel that either the "vaccination" process has to begin in the home and from the moment of birth, or the entire school process has to undergo a huge transformation society is not yet ready for.  Inside-out learning, unless its brought with the child from the very beginning, is a very difficult concept for the average, shamed individual to grasp.
I understand, again am home in your passion, and I see these as the same process: to help in the home or in the school, we need to respond to their inner need not entrain them in our models. How are we to help a toddler deal with shame? There is no protocol. We can say above else do no harm (not add to the shame), which is helpful, but if we want to help them learn their way through these feelings we must meet them in the flow of their actual experiencing them - we have to repsond to their inside-out participation. It doesn't matter whether its an algebra test, learning to read or a toddler whose face is contorted from the shame of mommies careless tone - we have to get alongside their inside experience - we have to intend to do that for any of the vaccination to work just as for reading to work.
Children don't have self-esteem - children are more healthily who they are when they are not 'caught' within negative to self feelings and thoughts. As we can't prevent them from having episodes of negative-to-self feelings and thoughts the work is to help them learn how to learn through them when they are happening.
I'm willing to debate this point, but I believe children do have self-esteem.
This would be most helpful to explore. What is self-esteem? Are you saying its in our genes? Is it a psychological formation apriori learning - a virtual organ? When you make it an attribute of being, give it thingness, I think you are expressing self-esteem in a way that is precisely the problem. I may be wrong. I would like to learn into this. I respect that you may be seeing something I am not. As a metaphor, lets take intestinal health. Is it the result of something I am holding within or the lack of holding within? I think the later. Our bodies function and feel best when we are not 'clogged'. I see self-esteem in the same way. We have a natural self-bouyancy that might be described by many of the qualities so frequently attributed to self-esteem. This natural bouyancy is not based on an internally held inventory of self-reflections - its how we are when we are transparent to who we are being and doing. I am inclined to see it inside-out - that its the weight of negative-to-self learning that leads to self-disesteeming habits.  Once we think self-esteem is a 'thing' within us that can be 'taught' or 'boosted' or .... we are on the path the critics rightfully challenge. Self-esteem is not something to learn - self-dis-esteem is what we must be careful to learn to not learn.
It is taken from them so early in life by caretakers who truly believe they are guiding them or teaching them when they criticize and get angry at things small children don't understand, we don't see it.  When a mother or father holds an infant closely and smiles, that self-esteem is being verified and reinforced. When parents understand the developing mind and use shame sparingly, a child learns from that shame and accepts it as part and parcel of the feelings they live with every day of their lives. My 4 year old niece said, "I can do anything I want to do," my 3 year old daughter said "I can't do that now. But maybe I can tomorrow," and my 4 year old granddaughter said, "I'm very creative, you know."  Little boys have a harder time retaining and developing that kind of self-esteem because their physical energies make them easier targets for provoking shame from tired parents.
Well said - I hear you. I have a 29, 27, 17, and 8 year old. 2 grandkids. 7 brothers and sisters and 15 nieces and nephews. I never met a child who wasn't a genius (feeling wise as well as .....)
We drop the past - the damage done is how they learned to process/manager their affects - the only way out is through learning when its happening - we need to create environments that are analogous to 'performance support systems' for learning-guide-resourcing their participating in negative to self feelings and thoughts.
I really wish we could do that. We haven't yet found a way to do it consistently and in a way that will keep working, especially for large groups of children.  We are fundamentally mis-oriented. Repairing damage that's already been done is so much more difficult than doing it right from the beginning.
I appreciate being able to participate in the dialogue you are doing such a good job of promoting on this problem.  It's people like you who create movement. Thank you
Its teachers like you that have touched the hearts and minds of our generations that I am so grateful for. As the changes gather and cohere the people who show up will be the ones who were touched (within) by their teachers - given the alpha version of the vaccine.
My best wishes to you
And, to you my warm best wishes - David

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