Learning or Performing

Troubling Teacher-as-Therapist

We have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today’s children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.

Baumeister et al, 2005

In the 1950s, my mother was both a good Australian parent and a good Australian teacher. As a good parent and teacher, my mother occasionally hit her own children or other people’s children. She did not hit too hard nor did she hit arbitrarily or carelessly. She hit them for breaking explicit rules, the rules of the home or the rules of the classroom. It was a time when effective parenting, like teaching, involved overt forms of coercion (including corporal punishment) sanctioned for preparing post-War baby boomers to take their place in a vertically ordered world of work and social life.

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