Self-esteem and learning

Self-esteem is a joy born of the fact that a man considers himself and power of acting. (pp. 108, D. XXV) See also Pride.

Love of esteem is a joy accompanied by the idea of some action of ours which we imagine that others praise. (pp. 108, D XXX)

Overestimation is thinking more highly of someone than is just, out of love. (pp. 107, D. XXI)

I have already examined issues connected with confidence, an affect which I feel the school system produces in its quest for “certainty”. Self-esteem and love of esteem are connected to confidence in the sense that if a teacher feels “confident” in what he/she is teaching then he/she will imagine that their actions might be praised by others which means they feel “self-esteem”. However, inevitably at some point doubt affects the teacher because something goes wrong – a pupil misbehaves, results are bad, a colleague is critical – and the teacher reaches for a new method, or an adaptation of existing method which he/she will be praised, which it often is if it is following the latest “on-message” initiative.

This cycle I believe describes the “affective” cycle which many educational institutions are locked into at the moment. The main point is that an “initiative” is introduced such as a new exam syllabus or way of teaching which is “confidently” presented as a way of helping students learn in a more effective way than before. Teachers are praised if they follow the provided instructions carefully, which builds their self-esteem and ensures that the initiative has “life”. However, at some point, doubt creeps in and a critical mass of people question the initiative or some “better” initiative is suggested, and a new method is introduced, and so the affective cycle begins again. I think what Spinoza’s philosophy of the affects teaches us here though is that education policies have to have a very real “affective life” in order to “live” and “act upon” teachers and students, and that vital to this affective life are confidence, self-esteem and doubt.

Learning and Esteeming Others

I think the affect of “over-estimation” afflicts many educational institutions. This is because people have to believe that there are “experts” that have the answers in a system that produces the fear of failure. Learners seek refuge in the affect of “over-estimation” to believe that they might not fail: they think that if they follow the advice of this or that expert they won’t fail. Their “over-estimation” is a way of avoiding of thinking adequately about a particular situation. The more “high-stakes” tests there are, the more the affect of “over-estimation” occurs. For example, in the UK at the moment, there are countless study guides (and I’ve written a few myself!) which many learners “over-estimate” the power of, believing that if they buy x study guide they will pass their exam.

We live in a culture which nurtures this affect to an absurd extent. You could argue that the world of advertising is predicated upon this affect.

Journey into Joy

When have you over-estimated a teacher or an educational “guide” of some sort of another, having too much faith in them to solve your problems?

Joy and sadness: a chart

This is a word processed version of the same chart:

Joy Joy ——————–Sadness

Continuum

Sadness
Love is a joy, accompanied by the idea of an external cause (Spinoza, 1994a, pp. 105, DVI)   Hate is a sadness, accompanied by the idea of an external cause (Spinoza, 1994a, pp. 106, DVII)
Inclination is a joy accompany by the idea of a thing which the accidental cause of joy (Spinoza, 1994a, pp. 106, D. VIII) Aversion is a sadness accompanied by the idea of something which the accidental cause of sadness (Spinoza, 1994a, pp. 106, D. IX)
Mockery is a joy born of the fact that we imagine something we disdain in a thing we hate (Spinoza, 1994a, pp. 106, D. XI)
Hope is an inconstant joy, born of the idea of a future or past thing whose outcome we to some extent doubt.  (pp. 106, D. XII) Fear is an inconstant sadness, born of the idea of a future or past thing whose outcome we to some extent doubt. (pp. 106, D. XIII)
Confidence is a joy born of the idea of a future or past thing, concerning which the cause of doubting has been removed. (Spinoza, 1994a, pp. 106, D. XIV) Despair is a sadness born of the idea of a future or past thing, concerning which the cause of doubting has been removed. (pp. 106, D. XV)
Gladness is a joy, accompanied by the idea of a past thing which has turned out better than we had hoped. (pp. 107, D. XVI) Envy is a hate insofar as it so affects a man that he is saddened by another’s happiness and, conversely, glad at his ill fortune. (pp. 107, D. XXIII) Remorse is a sadness, accompanied by the idea of a past thing which has turned out worse than we had hoped (pp. 107, D. XVII)
Pity is a sadness, accompanied by the idea of an evil which has happened to another whom we imagine to be like us. Compassion is…the habitual disposition of this affect. (pp. 107, D. XVIII)
Self-esteem is a joy born of the fact that a man considers himself and power of acting. (pp. 108, D. XXV) See also Pride. Humility is a sadness born of the fact that a man considers his own lack of power, or weakness. (pp. 108, D. XXVI)
  Repentance is a sadness accompanied by the idea of some deed we believe ourselves
 

 

Despondency is thinking less highly of oneself than is just, out of sadness (pp. 108, D XXIX)

Love of esteem is a joy accompanied by the idea of some action of ours which we imagine that others praise. (pp. 108, D XXX) Shame is a sadness, accompanied by the idea of some action which we imagine that others blame. (pp. 108, D XXXI)
Joy which arises from the absence of the thing we hate (P47S) (pp. 110, D XXXII) Longing is really a sadness which is opposed to that joy which arises from the absence of a thing we hate (P47S) (pp. 110, D XXXII)
Cheerfulness = species of joy

(p. 105)

Melancholy = species of sadness (p. 105)
Pleasure = species of joy (p. 105) Pain = species of sadness (p. 105)