“Pygmalion in the staff room: how the manager’s expectations affect the development of the staff’’ – Part A

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In our daily lives we all jump to conclusions. People make an impression on us based on the assumptions we make about their skills and abilities.

More often than not the assumptions we make affect the way we behave towards these people, thus making our ‘’prophecies’’ self-fulfilling.

Pygmalion in the classroom by Rosenthal and Jacobson

In 1966 Rosenthal and Jacobson carried out a research at the Oak Primary School, an area inhabited by low-income families, some of them Mexican some of them American.

The two psychologists gave pupils an IQ test without revealing the true reason for their research to the teachers. When they had the test results, they informed the teachers about them.

They didn’t tell the truth, though. They told teachers that the pupils with high IQ were those with lower IQ and vice versa.

The findings were really interesting because some months later when the IQ tests were re-administered, the pupils with the supposedly ‘’lower’’ IQ (who were the intelligent ones) scored a lower IQ, whereas the pupils with the low IQ scored higher than before. What had changed?

The expectancy advantage, which is the term Rosenthal uses to describe the increased expectations teachers have towards their students which consequently creates a more positive attitude towards them .

Maria Sachpazian BA education / RSA dip/tefl (hons)

From the classroom to the staff room

You might wonder what the connection is between the above-mentioned research and school management. I think there is an underlying analogy we ought to highlight. 

School owners are often “accused” of being more attached to their teaching role than to the business one. One business aspect, though, that school owners ought to excel in is Human Resource management, as this is related to their teaching style.


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