If we want thinking children, we need thinking teachers. This is the premise of my book ‘The Thinking Teacher’, in this series of posts I am sharing some of the key ideas from the book and the thinking behind them.
In the final chapter I consider the ideas around expectations, both the ones we set for others and for ourselves, and how we might set up expectations for ourselves that fundamentally affect the way we construct our lives.
Much has been written in about the Pygmalion effect in education. It has been shown in experiments that the expectations a teacher has for those in their classes can have a significant effect on how well they do in both directions. Low expectations become low outcomes, high expectations become higher outcomes, whether you are looking at those young people normally labelled most capable or those seen to be least capable.
It’s a sobering thought, that the expectations we have so fundamentally affect what we do and the messages we send. Reading the research on it as a teacher causes you to audit everything you do, and think deeply about how you might set yourself up to have and maintain the highest expectations you can, against the odds, to stop yourself sending those messages that limit learners, so that you never encourage them to just ‘settle’.
There are areas of our lives where ‘settling’ is seen to be inhibiting of us reaching our best, and others where we are encouraged to think that ‘settling’ is a good thing, providing security and the potential for growth.
What if the Pygmalion effect applies to all aspects of our lives? What if the settling that we often see as the goal in our endeavours just ends up limiting us?
If you have been following these posts over the past few weeks you might expect that ‘The Thinking Teacher’ closes on a question. This question, I think, has significant implications for teaching but also such implications for all our lives. Should we settle?