Lowered expectations

Have our expectations went down for teenagers today as opposed to 20, 50, 100 years ago?  Well, ya, it sure seems like it.

Children used to hit puberty, become adults and contribute to society through work, etc. Now, children are turning into pre-teens who change into teenagers, who morph into late-teens, who shift into young adults, followed by early adulthood, and in drastic cases you never reach full adult status but become the monster that is the manbaby.  And not the hilarious kind!  The sad kind where someone for whatever reason never grew up, but instead just got bigger.

Is this the result of a society lowering its expectations to allow the adolescent years stretch super-extra-long  into a persons’ twenties or thirties?  I would say so.  Now I’m not saying at the age of 13 kids should be working in acid mines, but I think we went a little crazy with the “let them just be kids” mentality and in the process dropped the bar too low.

I’m not a crotchety old senior citizen complaining about those darn kids,  I’m an aspiring teacher wanting the best for kids, and a big part of that is high expectations.  Research is stinking consistent that higher expectations result in higher performance.  Awesome!  High expectations = High performance. Let’s do that!  Unfortunately, when this is played out in school, it can be pretty off-putting to kids.   Having a teacher who “expects that they don’t talk, listen to him all the time and get straight A’s.”  Probably not the best way of going about it.  But daily motivating and encouraging students to a point where they believe that through hard work, they can do something, on their own, at a high level!  That would be pretty awesome.  Helping students see that they are capable of so much more than the status quo can be such a powerful realization.

Give your students the tools they need to succeed and push them darnit.  Help them see that high expectations aren’t oppressive, but freeing.  They can transform you into more than you thought you could be.  If your students see that you honestly feel this way, and truly care about them succeeding, I think there’s a greater chance they will.  Don’t leave them scraping by, measured against lowering expectations.  Hold that bar up high!

  1. good post Brodie! I have never really thought about expectations going down for teenagers in the past several years. Now that I read your post I completely agree with what you have shared. Kids need to be able to be kids yes, but there reaches a point where there needs to be more expected of adolescents. As teachers I agree that we should motivate and encourage students to believe that through hard work they can do things at a high level.

    great insight!

  2. I would only change the word ‘expectation’ to ‘motivation’ in a few of your sentences and you are good to go (to be a teacher :). I think we often forget that expecting high performance is great, but without motivation as well, it may become a bit… ‘dis-motivating’.
    But ya, I’m all for it – expect, motivate and help them become better people.

    • Allison said:

      There comes a point though where students must be INtrinsically motivated rather than EXtrinsically motivated. I only nudge so far then if tthe student doesn’t pull her/his weight it’s up to them to sink or swim. As a teacher I can’t put more effort into a student’s success than the student her/himself does.

  3. Tania Sterling said:

    Great thought provoking post Brodie! I teach grade 3 science and have to say by setting the bar high, my students understand my intent and believe that I believe they can all rise to the occasion!
    Everday I welcome them as my grade 3 Scientists and Data Analyzers. The smiles immediately spread across their faces because by doing so, I include them in the equation-their curiosity, questions, and inquiry drive my program, and we revisit that everyday!
    Who doesn’t want to be told that someone believes in us, or that they have a say in charting their own learning journey?

  4. You are on to something here Brodie. Expectation is a big word – sounding like a mountain students have to climb but as you describe the daily motivation, it can be something more incremental that is achievable (like chores!!).
    My approach as a teacher is to expect a standard of students but to tolerate partial success en route to improvement.

  5. Trina C said:

    Good thoughts here! I have always held my students to high expectations. They very rarely let me down.

  6. In many ways you are right, but I think that many things are much more serious now than when I was a kid. I am 52, graduated high school in 1977. Every action a kid takes today from the time they are 12 or so, seems to have dire consequences. Stuff my siblings, friends, and I did in the 70s that was ‘stupid kid stuff’ got treated as such, but today those same sorts of things can lead to arrests and other dire events. I am not saying let kids run rampant, but with every misstep having major impact, perhaps it seems easier to be a child forever. I am a teacher, and have high expectations of my students ( as should all of us), but I think it is harder to be a kid today than it used to be. Parents need to have high expectations with being overbearing, but they also need to require something of kids–it may be chores at home or a part-time job.

  7. Mollybob said:

    I think there’s some truth here, and if adopt the notion that people live up to (or down to as you highlight) expectations, some serious concerns too! I think that in some part, our society’s structure supports delayed adulthood too. We remain students for so long! and we didn’t used to. My parents both left school by the age of 18 and became integrated into society with full time jobs etc, and that was the norm. For me to get a “decent” job, I was a full time student at university until I was 22, and a part time one for quite a few years after that. That seems to be the norm now, and high tuition fees/debts coupled with increasing living expenses, mean that kids are staying at home longer and longer… I read somewher the average age to leave home is about 28 or something?? That must have an impact.

    So yes, we absolutely should raise expectations to create a better society, and it’s a sad state when low expectations create a gap in society, but in some respects, it is of our society’s making.

  8. Brodie – Good thoughts here. I think that the fact that we test our students to death with an overabundance of standardized tests does not help students achieve these “higher expectations.” I think that we focus too much on a right or wrong answer and not on the learning process. At least at the high school level, which I am most familiar with, I see a lot of students struggle with challenged-based learning because they go through so many years of their education prior to high school focused on lower-level thinking tasks.

    We have to be careful how we define “high expectations.” A lot of people say this, but they don’t give examples of what this looks like for them. I think there are a lot of educators and students working very hard, but that does not mean that they are all working in learning environments where high expectations are being set.

    I agree with you that showing students you care about them first as people is a must! If students don’t think you care about them as people they will not put in the extra time and energy needed to achieve high expectations.

    Best of luck!

  9. Whose expectations, what are they and how do you plan to measure them? If you want more support you are going to have to explain your thinking much better. Remember, we aren’t sharing head space with you, we don’t know what you mean. (I have this exact same problem so I can identify.)

    For the record I don’t think my students are too immature. They are young people trying to grow up (sometimes too fast for my taste, and sometimes too slow) but it is their lives, not ours they are living. Don’t they have the right to grow at their own pace?

    • bevenson said:

      I know I haven’t clearly detailed my thinking process, but I’m quite content just putting out what I’m feeling on a topic and getting feedback. I’m not looking for people to tell me I’m right, but rather get feedback positive and negative in order to better formulate my opinions. So thanks for the comment!

  10. Victoria Conley said:

    I agree we have lowered our expectations. We need to realize our students strengths and weaknesses. Once we get to know our students we can help them start to excel. Great writing, keep on blogging 😉 Ps one of my boys name is brodee, just spelled dif. Love the name 😉

  11. Tana said:

    So true. I have been teaching for 18 years and it is so important to give students ownership of their learning. Some don’t bite! But those are the kids who are coddled at home. It is so important to build relationships with your student to have them achieve to their maximum potential in your classroom. Sometimes that is hard to do but it is critical to do. Once you’ve done that them you can push them to not to be a man baby.

  12. One of the hardest things to communicate is expectations, particularly high expectations. That is true in the classroom and also in other facets of our lives.

    John Hattie short video here talks about making teaching and learning visible. Such effort helps with communication of expectations as well as achievements. For example, he suggests making learning objectives explicit AND provide examples of achievement. Show students what it looks like to succeed / do well.

    If we don’t communicate it well, high expectations become just rhetoric.

    • bevenson said:

      Hey Malyn. Communicating those expectations is huge. And even if they are explicitly communicated to students, if they aren’t reminded, encouraged, and given the tools, time, and training, the expectations can become daunting and counterproductive. It’s tricky. Thanks for the comment, and the reminder that showing examples of achievement for students is also important.

  13. Hi Brody;

    Having high standards for students is especially important. Alas, easier said than done. Here are some thought provoking questions as you enter the profession of teaching;

    1. Where should we put the “bar”?
    2. Should it be the same height for every student?
    3. Are there different bars? Achievement Bar, Behaviour Bar, citizenship bar?
    4. Is it possible to change the height of the bar based on knowing the student?
    5. Who determines the height of the bar? What High expectations look like are not easily agreed upon.

    Glad to see you are reflecting!

    Craig Frehlich

    • bevenson said:

      I understand it’s much easier said than done, and those are some great questions to help narrow down exactly where I stand on these issues. Thanks for the response, Craig!

  14. Allison said:

    I can appreciate your sentiments but as a teacher for the last 14 years I have to ask: how will you respond to parents who think your expectations are too high and fight against you rather than with you? It’s true that parents and teachers both want what is best for the kids BUT they won’t always see eye-to-eye on what that looks like or how to get them there. How can we as teachers hold our students to a higher standard if their parents don’t think it is fair or attainable (even though it is)?

    Best of luck in your future career. Keep expecting great things!

  15. Tammy said:

    I think that society as a whole has lowered their expectations of kids. Do you know that student workers at a franchised restaurant/coffee shop in my town were given bonusses for consecutive days that they showed up for work and on time? If we reward our kids for basic expected behavior instead of rewarding them for going above and beyond, does that create mediocrity? Where is the instrinsic desire to to learn, to achieve, to succeed? Where is the pride in your self? I don’t give kids A’s for just showing up to class everyday … they have to put forth the effort!

  16. I enjoyed this post! My high school English teacher told us on the first day of class, “I have high expectations for you, to not would be condescending.” At the time, I was terrified that I might not pass the class, but looking back, what she said was incredibly empowering. I hope to treat my students the same way!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: