Does self-fulfilling prophecy lead to failure?

What the teacher predicts of a pupil will come true because the teacher said so, right?

The expectations a teacher has of a student will affect their education; the teacher makes judgments on limited information on the way the student speaks or dresses, not their actual ability. There is the Halo effect; middle class students are likely to have positive labels whereas working class receives negative labels.

There is evidence shown that labeling takes place in the real world. For example Howard Becker (1971) a sociologist did a study in Chicago High School he found that teachers had an image of an “ideal pupil” and teachers judged pupils on their work; conduct and appearance and made the judgment based on how far they matched to this image. He found that the middle class best fitted the ideal image.

Teachers stereotype many students by their appearance:

uneducated students          educated student

The students on the left are likely to be stereotyped as un-educated, rude and ignorant whereas the student on the right is a stereotype of a smart boy. Teachers would treat these students differently, if the students on the left forgot their homework they would receive a detention but if the boy on the right forgot his homework he is likely to be let off and asked to bring it in the next day. Is this fair?

Self-fulfilling prophecy is likely to occur when students are streamed; each student is taught differently according to their stream; the working class are put into the lower ability class which makes it difficult for them to move up to a higher stream, these students ‘get the message’ that there is no hope and teachers would have low expectations of them whereas the higher ability classes are taught broader topics as they are an ideal pupil, as a result they develop a more positive self-concept, gain confidence, work harder and improve grades.

Don’t become the label fight it!

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