Friday, September 11, 2009

Believing is seeing!

Conventional wisdom tells us that seeing is believing. But I had an epiphany recently after watching a video produced by National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones. His premise is that believing is seeing. He told of story of a young teacher who was advised that her new class of students was intellectually gifted. She set her expectations accordingly and proceeded to teach them as though they all had high IQs. When she got her standardized test results back, sure enough the students all scored well above the school average. She was later told that in fact she had been a part of an experiment and that her kids IQs were very much average. What made the difference? She believed they were gifted and so she began to see them as gifted. Her behavior toward them (how she saw them) changed based on what she believed. By believing in them, she saw them through a new lens. By believing in our kids - by believing they can achieve - we can affect whether they do achieve and succeed. Henry Ford said “Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right!” So how do you look at your child’s achievement at Taylor or on the soccer field or around the house? A recent article from Psychology Today explored the power of parental expectations:
“Self-fulfilling prophecies—ideas that become reality simply because someone believes them—do not usually have strong effects. But a study shows that expectations may come to pass when many people hold the same beliefs—if those beliefs are unfavorable. Stephanie Madon, an Iowa State University psychologist, investigated parents' expectations about their children's alcohol use. She discovered that when both parents believe that a child will abuse alcohol, in fact, the child is likely to drink more than expected. This holds true even when signs, such as past alcohol use and friends' behavior, suggest a teenager is at low risk. The findings support the social theory that prophecies are especially self-fulfilling for stereotyped groups. But Madon notes that her study also offers hope. If one parent has positive expectations about a child, the child is protected from the other parent's negative belief.”
Here at Taylor, we are striving as a school community to believe each child can learn, come prepared for class, do his or her homework, and achieve at a high level. Sometimes can be a challenge at times because we may have a stereotypical view of a child or even a whole subgroup of children because of our experience or upbringing or cultural bias. But we are working hard to see each child through a lens of possibilities rather than limitations: the proverbial glass half-full. So when you see our marquee asking “Do you believe?” you will know what we aren’t promoting religion or an X-Files fan club. We are asking a core question: Do you believe your child can achieve? Do you believe your child will succeed? We hope the answer to both is “yes!”

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