Thursday, October 15

Pygmalion Effect

A few weeks ago I had nursing clinicals at a high school in downtown Chattanooga. I, along with two other girls, was going to teach certain health topics to 9th and 10th graders in the JROTC program. My experience there was not at all what I had expected.

We taught to three different sections of students, all with the same retired naval officer for a teacher. The teacher was quite hospitable to us in his classroom, offering to do whatever he could to help us get set up. However, he also "helped" us by warning us about different kids and classes that we would be in charge of teaching.

"Oh, ya'll are talking about drugs and alcohol? You'll see one girl who's a fetal alcohol syndrome kid, and you'll see some crack babies too. See if you can guess who they are and then I'll tell you."

I was uncomfortable with him sharing this information, and rather irked that he would even mention something like that. What do I need to know that for? And why should it matter?

The day continued, speckled with these harsh comments and informatives.

"Aww, he don't know nothin' don't listen to him."

"Ya'll are talking about pills? Oh, he can tell you all about that."

And these were just the comments directed toward me and my fellow nursing classmates, to make no mention of the comments he directed towards his students, and all in plain hearing of the entire classroom.

By the end of the day, I could feel the anger inside me rising with each painful jab he made. I thought of those teens; most of them are faced with the same degrading, faithless remarks day after day after day from their family, their friends, and their teachers. Every day, it is impressed further upon their minds that they are worthless and will never amount to anything. And I couldn't help but think that I was sitting in the midst of a classroom full of nearly lost potential. I was seeing the Pygmalion effect in action. These students were living up to exactly what was expected of them-- nothing more and nothing less.

My fellow nursing classmates and I did our very best to treat them with the exact opposite attitude of their teacher. But that was just one day of their lives. I couldn't help but be saddened at the thought of the prospects of their lives if this cycle continues. And I pray that God intervenes to bring them out of the pits that Satan has dug them into.

But in thinking of all this, I was relieved to know that there is One who has full faith in each of our potentials. God expects great things of each of us, and I hope that we can each see the expectations that He has of us. Because in the end, the majority of people will be what they feel they are expected to be.


Emily said...

Thank you for sharing this. Our influence IS powerful.

Christen said...

So true! If I were still going to be a teacher, I would certainly keep this in mind.

Lorrie said...

mmm, wow...

Caitlin said...

Thank you for trying to show them that they matter - that they are really worth so much! You never know what one day can do - truly!