Learning and Expectations

If you ask someone the key to success in real estate, they’ll tell you, “Location, location, location.” In the field of education, a critical component of the superior teacher is “Expectation, expectation, expectation.”

We can see evidence of this in Rainier Scholars located in Seattle, Washington. Founded by Robert Hurlbut, Ranier Scholars is a project for low-income students. It recruits 5th graders who are highly motivated and has them attend full-time summer school plus weekend classes. The goal is to shepherd them through college graduation.

Drego Little, one of the teachers, says that he visualizes his young students as future doctors, city councilmen, and other responsible, successful grownups. He explains, “I treat them as if they are going to be consequential people—and work back from there. If you treat them as if they actually have a future, they tend to have one.” He wants to give his students expectations early in their lives. 

His approach is apparently time-tested. In his masterful book John Adams, author David McCullough reports that the second president of the United States used the same technique when he was teaching school. Adams is quoted as stating, “I can discover all the geniuses, all the surprising actions and revolutions of the great world in miniature. I have several renowned generals but three feet high, and several deep-projecting politicians in petticoats. I have others catching and dissecting flies, accumulating remarkable pebbles, cockleshells, etc., with as ardent curiosity as any virtuoso in the Royal Academy. . . .” (page 38)

Perhaps Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated it best: “If you treat someone as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he could and ought to be, he will become what he could and ought to be.”

What expectations do you have of your students and children?