The Law of Positive Expectancy!

January 23, 2008

From Vic Conant

Chairman, Nightingale-Conant 

(This experiment was performed in a San Francisco Bay area school by Dr. Robert Rosenthal of Harvard University.)

At the beginning of the school year, the principal called three teachers into his office.

And to these teachers he said, “As a result of your teaching excellence over the last three or four years, we have come to the conclusion that you are the best teachers in this school. And as a special reward to you, we have identified three classes each with 30 of the brightest students in this school — the students with the highest IQs And we’re going to assign them to you to teach for the entire year.

“Now, we don’t want to be accused of discrimination, so it’s very important that you do not tell these children in any way that you know that they’ve been selected for a screened class. And second of all, we’re not going to tell their parents, because we don’t want to cause any difficulties there. I expect you to teach exactly the same way you normally do and use exactly the same curriculum, and I expect you to get very good results with these students.

The results: At the end of the school year, these students led not only the school, but the entire school district in academic accomplishment.

Calling the three teachers into his office, the principal said:

“Well, you’ve had a very good year.”

“Yes we have … it was so easy,” replied the teachers. “These children were so easy to teach. They were so eager to learn; it was such a pleasure to teach them.”

“Well, maybe I’d better tell you the truth,” said the school principal.

“This has been an experiment, and those 90 children were chosen out of the school population at random. When I assigned them to your class at the beginning of the year, I had no idea what their IQs were at all.”

“That’s incredible!” exclaimed the teachers. “But how could it be that they scored so high? They did so well. They got such good grades. Ah hah! Yes! It must be because we are such excellent teachers.”

At which the principal said, “And I think I should also tell you the other side of the experiment. At the beginning of the school year, we put all the teachers’ names in a hat, and yours were the first three names that were drawn.”

The Law of Positive Expectancy —
The Secret to Achieving More

These average students did so well because of the Law of Positive Expectancy. This law states that you achieve what you expect to achieve and what others expect you to achieve. Since the principal expected a lot, so did the teachers. And, sensing that the teachers expected a lot, the students did too. Dr. Rosenthal repeated this experiment 300 times each time getting identical results.

“To achieve more, you have to expect more. And, to get more from the people who work for you, expect more from them.” It really is that simple.


Vic Conant - Chairman, Nightingale-Conant

Where else in your life might this be applicable?


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