Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Difference between Respect and Esteem

I hear the aphorism, "Respect has to be earned," and it makes me discouraged.  This idea is a source of some of the bad manners and disruptive behaviors I see in students, especially middle school and older students.  It conflates two attitudes toward authority figures and I think we need to use two different words for these ideas. "Respect" can be used for the decent treatment we give to everyone - the honorable treatment of those in positions of authority, especially, regardless of our knowledge of that person's behavior. This meaning is embodied in the aphorism, "Treat everyone with respect."  

"Esteem", on the other hand, is what needs to be earned. We give esteem to those who earn it by their exemplary behavior.

I think it would help to make the distinction.

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