Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Esteemed Grades

Old timers will remember the California created a Self-Esteem Commission back in the mid-1980s. For those that don’t, you can find a reference to this endeavor at

The Commission was the brain child of John Vasconcellos, a state assemblyman of that era, who was very much into such concepts. His picture is at left. Much national mirth was aimed at California as a result of the Commission’s creation, including a Doonesbury parody. The Commission neatly fitted into the state’s New Age/hot tub image.

Inside Higher Ed today points to a new study in which self esteem of college students – and its relation to grades - is explored:

In two separate studies, the researchers asked college students how much they wanted and liked various pleasant activities, such as their favorite food or seeing a best friend. They were asked to rate how much they wanted and liked each activity on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (extremely). One of the items they were asked about was self-esteem building experiences, such as receiving a good grade or receiving a compliment.

…there is nothing wrong with a healthy sense of self-esteem. But the results of (the) study suggest many young people may be a little too focused on pumping up their self-esteem. …“It wouldn’t be correct to say that the study participants were addicted to self-esteem,” (a study author) said. “But they were closer to being addicted to self-esteem than they were to being addicted to any other activity we studied...”

(The author) said he sees danger in this obsession with self-esteem. Research has shown that levels of self-esteem have been increasing, at least among college students in the United States, since the mid-1960s. “American society seems to believe that self-esteem is the cure all for every social ill, from bad grades to teen pregnancies to violence,” he said. “But there has been no evidence that boosting self-esteem actually helps with these problems. We may be too focused on increasing self-esteem.”

See: and

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