Mastery Is The Best Builder of Self-Esteem and Mental HealthBy Daryl CapuanoGeneral Education Advice
In working with students the past 20 years, I have seen the gradual deterioration of the mental health of students. It is not uncommon for a student to mention their psychological diagnosis during a tutoring session or for a parent to call with a description of the psychological challenges faced by their child.
“Out of the mouths of babes….” is an expression denoting the wisdom that can come from young people
We’ll call her “Eve”. She suffers from severe anxiety. This led to school avoidance. This led to underperforming in middle school. Math is one of those areas where the lack of learning in middle school is crippling for math thereafter. After the first session, I thought I would never see her again. She had high anxiety whenever we started a problem. As I taught her, I could see that she was not natively bad at math. She simply had not been taught basic fundamentals. What I didn’t see was that she was learning – and mastering – some of the basics (which heretofore had not been mastered) and that this was making an impression on her.
Eve’s mom called excitedly after the meeting to book regular meetings. I expressed my surprise.
“Kids who understand math feel good at math”. Eve had told her.
Apparently as Eve was learning, she was also developing hope.
Mastery – not avoidance -builds self-esteem and mental health.