I liked this piece a lot. I used to work in the field of gender equity when raising girls self esteem was all the rage and it used to make me furious.
An esteemed colleague of mine Professor Sue Willis used to be particularly scathing about these popular programs, proclaiming to all who would hear that experiencing success in learning leads to self esteem but the other way round does not work.
I have noticed a slight return of this theme in feminism aimed at girls and young women and it really bothers me. What do others think?
Fifteen years ago I watched David Brent give this masterclass in motivation. This was before I started teaching, and when I entered the profession I was horrified to learn that this kind of stuff appeared to be embedded in so much of education from the Monday morning assembly to the top-down CPD session. I remember attending a leadership training day that featured one bit that was almost word for word, a carbon copy of the hotel role-play scene where Brent ‘fazes’ the trainer.
Nowhere is this pseudo-profundity more alive today than in social media, and the weapon of choice for this kind of stuff is the motivational poster. More than ever, we seem to be drowning under a tidal wave of guff exhorting both pupil and teacher to ‘reach for the stars’ and ‘be all that you can be.’ While seemingly benign and well intentioned, these missives in mediocrity signal a larger shift towards…
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