Devotion for February 2017
Have you ever heard of the Rosenthal-Jacobson study? It was an experiment conducted in the 1960s in which teachers at a California elementary school were given the names of students who were “intellectual bloomers” or above-average learners. But in reality, those students were chosen at random. Nevertheless, when all students at the elementary school were tested at the end of the school year, the “intellectual bloomers” (or experimental group) scored significantly higher.
Teacher expectations influenced student performance. In other words, the teachers believed that those students were high performers, treated them as high performers, and expected nothing less than high performance.
I can imagine that the teachers must have given the experimental group more attention – spending more one-on-one time answering questions and working through problems – because “they’re the smart kids and surely they’ll understand”. Or maybe the teachers made comments affirming the students’ success.
The other students were left out in left field. And perhaps they were just as intellectually capable or even smarter than the experimental group. But because the teachers didn’t think so or treat them so, the students in the control group didn’t perform as well.
The Rosenthal-Jacobson study didn’t discover a mysterious phenomenon, it only gave us an example that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Proverbs 23:7 tells us for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. As the teachers in the study began to treat particular students as high performers, those students began to think of themselves as high performers, and ultimately became high performers.
You, too, have power to shape your children into high performers. If you treat them as high performers, they’ll see themselves as high performers.
So go tell your struggling reader “you’re a super reader”. Take the stress off your math student by saying “you can do it, you’re a great problem solver”. And imagine what would happen if you hung up your struggling writer’s essay – run-on sentences and all.