The Pygmalion effect at school

The Pygmalion effect at school

Teaching should not just be limited to imparting knowledge. It is also important how they are taught and, also, the kind of teacher who teaches them. In this sense, a teacher who inspires self-confidence in the student can radically change their academic curriculum.

This is what is called the Pygmalion effect , and it was put to the test in a classic study from 1965 carried out by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson .

Tell me i’m smart

Positive reinforcement in a student can become so relevant to a student that he comes to believe that he is better than he is, and ultimately act accordingly.

This is what they did in a study with primary school students who were told by their teachers that they were more advanced or intellectually gifted students, and that therefore such a condition should be taught and monitored .

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What happened then? That said students became better students, as Dean Burnett explains in his book The Idiot Brain :

Unsurprisingly, these students began to achieve grades and academic performance in line with students of superior intelligence. The problem was that they were not gifted: they were normal students. But by convincing their male and female teachers that they had to be treated as if they were smarter, they basically started to perform in school at the level that was consistent with the new expectations formed around them.

Or put another way : students who are told that intelligence or performance is already fixed, it is immutable, they are condemned to it, they conform to that prediction. But students who are told otherwise tend to perform better.

Many other similar studies have confirmed in recent years the existence of this effect, which is not only limited to the field of education, but to anyone in which our performance can be evaluated .