It’s not about self-esteem

From Gloria Ladson-Billings, 2006:

“Our supreme reliance on individuals means that we look at students as individually responsible for their success in school. We lack complex understandings of how individual, family, community, school, and societal factors interact to create school failure for some students. It is much easier to explain students’ failure by looking at something internal to the students than endemic in this thing we call school culture. Self-esteem is liberally sprinkled throughout American English. Every talk show host, every talk show guest has uttered the word. ‘I overate because I had low self-esteem.’ ‘I allowed my partner to abuse me because I had low self-esteem.’ I eagerly await the day when someone says, ‘I overeat because I am surrounded by food ads and fast-food outlets that sell nothing but high-fat, unhealthy food, and as a poor person it is more difficult to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and take time to prepare them.’ Or, ‘I was abused by my partner because he’s a jerk who has decided to work through his own shortcomings by taking advantage of me. The society says he should make a certain amount of money to take care of his family. He doesn’t make it and I am a constant reminder of his failure but I’m an okay person.'”

Preach on. Say why problems really exist. Think about why it’s not your fault. Or why it is.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). It’s not the culture of poverty, it’s the poverty of culture: The problem with teacher education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 37(2), 104–109.

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