Researchers at the University of Missouri have linked poor academic performance of students in first grade to low self-esteem in those students in sixth and seventh grade. According to the researchers, "Often, children with poor academic skills believe they have less influence on important outcomes in their life." Makes sense to me. I mean, don't people who can't read or write well have more limited life choices than those who can? Isn't that just a fact?
The researchers say that teachers should "honor skills in other areas, such as interpersonal skills, non-core academic areas, athletics and music." I believe that. Those are all useful and worthwhile skills to have and should be acknowledged as such.
What I don't believe is that these findings are any excuse to back down on the emphasis that we place on literacy and math skills in the classroom. Kids who don't learn to do those things and do them well actually will have less influence on the important outcomes in their lives. And it won't matter whether they have high or low self-esteem.