Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I AM NOT SMALL! I CAN DO THINGS AND DO THEM WELL – A Journey of self worth to self esteem

“Teacher, when my mom comes to pick me up please tell her that I can peel and cucumber."
"I can knead atta and roll rotis."
"She does not listen to me and says I am small."
"I am BIG!"

"Tell her I can do everything. I can help her.”

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old
peeling a cucumber 
A four year old as part of her Montessori EPL (Everyday Practical Life) routine had just finished the activity of peeling the cucumber, cutting it, eating it and sharing it with her friends. She was delighted and felt accomplished.The plea from the child captured my attention I have always wondered about self worth and the difference between self esteem. Here it was: A BIG ‘Eureka’ moment!

The dictionary meaning of self worth means sense of one's own value or worth as a person.

The dictionary meaning of self esteem means confidence in one’s own worth or abilities synonymous to faith in one self.

The child had just discovered self worth in her action of peeling and cutting a cucumber at the age of 4. The ability to handle the knife like an adult and accomplish an outcome similar to her mother had made her realise her potential, and all the valuable possibilities her hands could accomplish.

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old 
peeling a cucumber 
In the request to her mother, the child is looking for validation in her immediate environment of her household to be able to analyse, what she had learnt was a worthy skill or not; an invaluable connect of her worth to an empowering feeling of being of HELP, a moment of pride, a feeling of confidence, faith in her capabilities.…. SELF ESTEEM in true sense.

Self worth as experienced here by the child came to me in a new light, it was momentous, it seemed dynamic it was not a constant, it was contextual…. 

The 4 year old had discovered a new level of hand eye co-ordination and was basking in the glory of her new found skill. What the child needed now, was validation to appreciate the skill, find it worthy enough to build confidence in her ability. 

An appropriate intervention like allowing the child to cut a plate of salad for lunch or dinner would find right value for it and seal the skill with confidence and faith; encourage the child to explore more activities, get creative, discover the various possibilities, build confidence in her hands and take pride in them as part of her whole being.

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old 
cutting a cucumber 
On the other hand by not allowing the child to test his/her newly acquired skill in the real world makes the child disrespect the skill and the child shuns away from the work. Repetitively ignoring contextual validation for skills acquired makes the children loose faith in their body parts, their abilities, and finally in their own self.

The three main domains of learning as per Bloom's Taxonomy are:
o   Cognitive: mental skills (knowledge)
o   Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (attitude or self)
o   Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (skills)

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old 
handling with tongs 
This endows on us that all these domains are interconnected and highly dependent on each other. The development of cognitive domain is normally preceded by the affective and the psychomotor domains, which begin development from the day of birth in form of observation, analyzing, applying gross and fine motor skills, speech and language skills, social and emotional skills. All these apply towards building self worth and self esteem. The confidence in these skills paves the path to build confident cognitive skills and self realization of their development.

The self worth and self esteem developed as part of early year learning is not an overnight achievement but a gradual progression achieved by multiple every day tasks and their validation, which help to recognise the worth of the entire being. It helps the children build confidence in their potential, abilities and makes them courageous to achieve every cognitive milestone in later years.

Focus on only cognitive milestones without investment in building self worth and self esteem as part of affective and psychomotor development in early years leaves the children dis-illusioned as they find a disconnect in their goals and their ability to achieve them with their being.

Lately there is a lot of conversation about children building inertia to do work...

According to me the answer is very simple…. we need to bridge self worth and self esteem...