Insights from Morton High

Expect the best

The sun had set leaving a pool of golden fire on the horizon. The night sky was brilliant with moonlight and the earth radiated the heat of the day into the evening air.

As I drove into Morton after sunset watching the colors of dusk like glowing embers move from brilliant golds and oranges gradually into mauves, grays, and gentle dark blue, the words of the psalmist came to me. "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is they name in all of the earth! Who has set thy glory above the heavens....When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou visitest him?" Indeed the night sky here could inspire a psalmist. As I rushed to meet our guests from the South Plains Astronomy Club I was both excited and apprehensive. I always worry that events I've helped plan---particularly when they involve people whose time is precious -- may be poorly attended. But once again, I was not disappointed when so many came to see the mysteries of the night sky.

As I eavesdropped on the comments children made at first sight of the moon or Jupiter close up and not in a picture, I was once again made aware that there is no substitute for experience. You would just get the telescope trained on Jupiter or the moon, and the child would look through it when suddenly the planet would have moved out of the viewer! "I didn't bump it, honest!" "No you didn't, but why did the planet move?" I'd ask. Then they would realize and understand that the earth truly is moving--turning on its axis, traveling through space at breakneck speed wobbling as it goes! Suddenly what their science teachers had taught them had meaning--they had experienced it.

I also became aware of how much what we see depends on what we are expecting to see. Of course, it is not just children who see what they expect to see. Research has taught us that teachers also see what they expect to see.

In an interesting experiment teachers were given the names of students who were supposed to possess exceptionally high IQs in their classes. In actuality these children's names were drawn at random. At the end of the school year the children whose teachers believed they had exceptional IQ's had fulfilled that expectation. The lesson is clear. Expect the best from each child and empower him or her to achieve it!

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