Focus – Expectations, expectations

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IN mathematics, “expectation” is used as another term for “expected value”.

When one is given expectation and recognition, their value becomes more known to them.

Semantics, it may seem. But ask Charles Taylor in his “Politics of Recognition” about what it means to have expectation and you’ll learn that withholding expectation is a form of non-recognition creating conditions of oppression.

For many of us students in the Bay, we feel that there is a lack of expectation for our educational achievement.

A student and their small group of friends were recently told they had “outgrown high school”. They are all in year 13, yet none of them have the minimum University Entrance requirements, which are necessary for most careers that school leavers aim towards.

This situation does occur more than one might think in our own local schooling environment.

Had this school done anything years prior to prevent this from happening? Surely over their four years of high school, teachers having taught – or attempting to teach – these students in classrooms would have noticed a difference in the way they perceive schooling.
Adjustments can be made.

Expectations customised and reinforced. Are our schools too big only being able to cater for the common denominator? Too many of our peers are slipping through the cracks.

For example, it is true that many students cannot thrive in a closed classroom environment and this is argued as the reason why occupations in trades are becoming increasingly popular among students.

A hands-on, practical learning environment where students can quickly gain work experience in a specific area is certainly more exciting for some than staring aimlessly at a whiteboard, regurgitating the information into our books for us to probably never look back at again.

Putting aside that this might reinforce class stereotypes, the principle still applies. An ongoing conversation around expectations allows other conversations around engagement and choice to flow from it.

“Outgrown high school” is code for “we’ve given up on you, now please move on”.

It is disheartening to hear that these students have already lost out because not many people took the time to believe in them.

“I have personally witnessed the moments of brilliance from peers in the exact same situation.

“Brilliance which seemed to appear out of nowhere. But no one jumped on it. No one nurtured that moment.”

If you have not reinforced a positive expectation of someone this week – whether it is your son, daughter, niece, nephew, moko – then jump to it and do not stop. It could mean the difference between passing or failing.

Youth Voice – Mirella Alexandre