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Self-esteem : the kindly apocalypse.

Smith, R. D. (2002) 'Self-esteem : the kindly apocalypse.', Journal of philosophy of education., 36 (1). pp. 87-100.


Self-esteem has become an educational shibboleth. But over-valuing it brings dangers, particularly of dishonesty, manipulation and devaluation of human relationships. Yet there is clearly something here we want to save: a gentler culture with wider possibilities of self-fulfilment. Here I try to distinguish three levels of self-esteem talk. There is the exaltation of self-esteem as the chief aim of education, the therapeutic approach to education and the recognition of self-esteem as one educational value among many. It is the latter, I argue, that can preserve the benefits of the idea of self-esteem while avoiding the worst of its pitfalls.

Item Type:Article
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Record Created:07 Jul 2008
Last Modified:24 May 2012 12:22

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