Unfortunately we have this long tradition in our public education system of feeling the need to tell people that they are great. Or doing real well, we pass students off to the next grade whether they can read and spell their own name or not. Because the feeling is that holding back or not putting them through summer school, or having tougher educational standards, will hurt their self-esteem and that would be worst. Or we may see more students drop out of high school, because they don’t believe they can do the work.
We rather have people graduate high school, even if they don’t have the skills to be a high school graduate, than hold them back and make sure they get those skills. So their high school diploma is worth more than a piece of paper. And look how well we are doing with that, we have Americans who can’t name the current Vice President of the United States. And I’m sure not all of these people live in South Carolina or the broader Bible Belt. We also have Americans who don’t know where the Pacific Ocean is. Wouldn’t surprise me if some of these people live on the West Coast. But probably not beach homes, because they couldn’t afford them.
Brian Billick who use to coach the Baltimore Ravens had a theory of coaching. About what to do when a player screws up. He said “you can put it gently and say you know what that’s not what I was looking for on that play and hopefully you’ll do better in the future”. Or you can tell them “god dammit you fucked up buddy”. Just put it on the line and let them know exactly how they messed up.
“And this is not what I’m looking for and you’re going to have to be better in the future”. But then tell them how they screwed up and show them what you want done instead. And if they continue to screw up, find a replacement for them. Because when you reward failure, you just get more of it. But if you teach and reward success, you get more of that as well. It’s the tough love approach to life that I prefer. Lay it out on the line so you know where you are. And then you can adjust.
Self-esteem is only worth as much as its worth, if you have reason to have high self-esteem, then you should have that. But if you’re not doing very well, then you need to know that or have someone show you where you are lacking. So you can figure out what the problem is and improve yourself. And not get overconfident and think you are better than you are. Because that’s how we let ourselves down.