Cover image for Reaching higher : the power of expectations in schooling
Reaching higher : the power of expectations in schooling
Weinstein, Rhona S.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 345 pages ; 25 cm
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LB1062.6 .W45 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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She has a funny way of looking at you, a fourth-grader told Rhona Weinstein about his teacher. She gets that look and says 'I am very disappointed in you'. I hate it when she does that. It makes me feel like I'm stupid. Just crazy, stupid, dumb. Even young children know what adults think of them. All too often, they live down to expectations, as well as up to them. This book is about the context in which expectations play themselves out.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The notion of a "self-fulfilling prophecy" is common parlance in education. Low expectations of students and corresponding differential treatment predictably produce low achievement or failure. Previous efforts (the "positive self-esteem" movement) and current attempts (high standards and testing) have both failed; Weinstein says it's because neither is ecological in scope. A psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Weinstein draws upon decades of research as well as her own extensive fieldwork in schools to make a persuasive case for more serious considerations of "expectancy theory" and its application to education. Her premise: classrooms becoming places where high achievement is expected for all isn't just a political platform but a reality. She reasonably states, however, that to effect such a transformation "would require a radical shift in the achievement culture of schools" and a rethinking of school policies, practices and classroom climate, not to mention existing theories of motivation, ability, disability, beliefs about how children learn and, importantly, the pervasive belief in the bell curve. Solving the problems of underachievement will necessarily involve parents, teachers, students, researchers, administrators and the wider society in changing our paradigm of achievement. Thinking ecologically about this issue is a tall order, but Weinstein addresses in painstaking detail just what it entails. This is an important book for everyone who believes in the historic promise of equal educational opportunity, and in the possibility that all children can reach their full learning potential. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Based on her own three decades of research into the self-fulfilling power of expectations, Weinstein (psychology, Berkeley) presents an analysis of our schools and outlines a practical approach to reform driven by both the head and the heart. She examines how expectations placed on children by their parents, teachers, and the students themselves are formed by and reinforce social constructs, and she demonstrates that the key to change rests in a shift in perceptual focus from the aggregate to the specific. Although a category of children may be shown by testing to fall into a certain stratum of expected competencies, each individual child does not. Undaunted by the complexities involved, Weinstein offers a systems approach that demands changes at every point of interaction: students, teachers, parents, administrators, teacher training faculty, and researchers. Implemented systemically across our nation's schools, her approach would move the next generation's educational experience into a new level of excellence, lift multiple barriers to learning, and thus change many of our existing, limiting social norms. Recommended for all academic and public libraries.-Jean Caspers, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

For good or ill, analyses of the effect of expectations on students' performance are intertwined with Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson's Pygmalion in the Classroom (1968). Although methodological problems allowed researchers to overstate the case for expectancy effects, that study provided impetus for much subsequent discussion. Weinstein (psychology, Univ. of California, Berkeley) has placed it in current context by reviewing the culture of the classroom as it is affected by the intended and unintended messages to students about their ability and potential. That communicated expectations are a statistically significant element in student achievement will not surprise those acquainted with the empirical literature. Less apparent is how much expectations matter. The case studies and anecdotal information the author cites are emotionally compelling arguments in favor of controlling and exploiting this variable in student achievement, but they skirt the issue of how much of student achievement expectations explain. Weinstein has undertaken another extension of the discussion with greater success, and that is to ask what adjustments ought to occur to capitalize on the effect that communicating positive expectations can have on student progress. Those issues are addressed thoroughly and convincingly. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. D. E. Tanner California State University, Fresno

Table of Contents

I Reframing the Debate: What Children Can Become
1 Colliding Expectations of Family and School
2 Turning Points in Research on Expectations: Toward an Ecological Paradigm
3 Revisiting Educational Self-Fullling Prophecies
II Expectations in Classrooms: Through the Eyes of Students
4 Children Talk about Expectations for Achievement
5 Differences among Classroom Achievement Cultures
6 Children's Lives in Contrasting Classrooms
7 Achievement Histories of Vulnerability and Resilience
III Expectations in Systems: Through the Eyes of Educators
8 Changing a Stratied School Culture
9 A School Culture for the Fullest Development
10 Achievement Cultures for University Faculty