Reaching Higher / Edition 1

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Overview

"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.

Drawing upon a generation of research on self-fulfilling prophecies in education, including the author's own extensive fieldwork in schools, Reaching Higher argues that our expectations of children are often too low. With compelling case studies, Weinstein shows that children typed early as "not very smart" can go on to accomplish far more than is expected of them by an educational system with too narrow a definition of ability and the way abilities should be nurtured. Weinstein faults the system, pointing out that teachers themselves are harnessed by policies that do not enable them to reach higher for all children.

Her analysis takes us beyond current reforms that focus on accountability for test results. With rich descriptions of effective classrooms and schools, Weinstein makes a case for a changed system that will make the most of every child and enable students and teachers to engage more meaningfully in learning.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Weinstein has undertaken another extension of the discussion [of student achievement expectations] 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.
— D. E. Tanner

British Journal of Educational Studies

I recommend the book unreservedly to anyone with an interest in education. Some readers will find their assumptions challenged. Others will find moral and intellectual support for their pursuance of an educational system that is just, humane, and not wasteful of human potential.
— Joanna Swann

Childhood Education

This powerful book reaffirms the democratic ideals of public education. . . highly recommended for teacher preparation programs.
— Meredith E. Kiger

Seymour B. Sarason
This book could not be more timely. The inadequacies of our schools have become a source of national concern as never before. At the core are two questions: What should we expect of students? And why do schools so clearly fail to help students meet those expectations? Rhona Weinstein has taken the study of self-fulfilling prophecies far beyond the earlier focus on how individuals think and interact, to show how self-fulfilling prophecies suffuse the culture of all educational institutions -- and how fateful they can be for society as a whole. Reading this book should make us all reexamine how we look at what goes on in schools. If only I had it when I took my first job as a psychologist over half a century ago!
Robert J. Sternberg
Rhona Weinstein's book is the most up-to-date treatment of expectancy effects in schooling now available, definitively ending any doubts about whether expectancy effects in school are a genuine psychological phenomenon. The book is interesting, engaging, and powerful.
James G. Kelly
Here's a book to give us hope. Parents, teachers, principals and scholars can all benefit from Weinstein's lucid and passionate demonstration--that our positive expectations for children help them learn and expand their social development. At the same time, Weinstein shows just how much social norms within families and school cultures can limit children's achievements. The power of the small everyday circumstances in which we communicate our expectations to children is so persuasively documented that readers can look at their own children or students with new insight, and return to them with renewed verve.
Robert Rosenthal
Rhona Weinstein, an award-winning teacher-researcher, has produced a scholarly and heartfelt call for different kinds of educational institutions and approaches. Emphasizing the workings of teachers' expectations, Weinstein shows us life in classrooms, good teaching and bad, and what may, in the future, improve learning --not only for those of whom little is expected, but for all children. Her book is about much more than the educational effects of teacher expectations; it is about excellence in education at every level.
Deborah Stipek
Reaching Higher breathes life into one of the most important issues in education. Weinstein brings school and teacher expectancy effects alive in stories of children, some of whose opportunities to learn were unnecessarily thwarted, some of whom were encouraged to achieve more than they ever thought they could. This is that rare thing, a theoretically path breaking book that will be invaluable in the real world of the classroom.
Jerome Bruner
Reaching Higher is a passionate, scrupulously documented book on how schools create educational inequality in America, as teachers convince less socially favored children that they lack the ability to learn and get ahead. Rhona Weinstein closes her searching book with recommendations about how schools might develop a deeper and more agentive self-confidence in today's schoolchildren, tomorrow's citizens. This is a must read for anybody concerned with the future of American education, or more broadly, with the future of democracy in America.
Carola Suarez-Orozco
Reaching Higher provides a crucial reexamination of the corrosive effects of low teacher expectancies--not in artificial experimental contexts, but in the complex ecology of students' and teachers' lives in the American school system. Reaching Higher should be required reading for all those who are involved in the art and science of shaping student day-to-day experiences and helping them along their future pathways.
Claude Steele
Terms like "expectancy" and "self-fulfilling prophecy" have become so familiar in the discussion of academic underachievement that they have lost much of their meaning. Weinstein's book gives them renewed force. Reaching Higher is a tour de force exposition of how the expectations we hold for students--often influenced by their background and group identity--form the schooling structures and experiences that can limit human potential. Anybody who cares about equal educational opportunity will never look at the term "expectancy" in the same way again, and will come away with a recharged hope that we can overcome this tenacious problem.
Choice - D. E. Tanner
Weinstein has undertaken another extension of the discussion [of student achievement expectations] 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.
British Journal of Educational Studies - Joanna Swann
I recommend the book unreservedly to anyone with an interest in education. Some readers will find their assumptions challenged. Others will find moral and intellectual support for their pursuance of an educational system that is just, humane, and not wasteful of human potential.
Childhood Education - Meredith E. Kiger
This powerful book reaffirms the democratic ideals of public education. . . highly recommended for teacher preparation programs.
Publishers Weekly
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.)
Library Journal
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674016194
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 0.82 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Rhona S. Weinstein is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 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-Fulfilling 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 Stratified School Culture
    • 9. A School Culture for the Fullest Development
    • 10. Achievement Cultures for University Faculty


  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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