In This Chapter

Expectations, Stereotypes, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in Classroom and School Life

Authored by: Clark Mckown , Anne Gregory , Rhona S. Weinstein

Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development

Print publication date:  May  2010
Online publication date:  June  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805859485
eBook ISBN: 9780203874844
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283872


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Schools are a critical context for children’s development (Rutter & Maughan, 2002; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979; Weinstein, 2002). The events and relationships that unfold over the approximately 15,000 hours children spend in elementary and secondary schools influence many facets of development. Children acquire knowledge and skills that reflect the core mission of schools. In addition, as the chapters in this volume so comprehensively review, what happens in schools can have a profound influence on children’s views about themselves as learners, their motivation to work hard and learn, their persistence in the face of failure, and their behavior and mental health. We know that children generally begin school enthusiastic about learning and that over the course of their school careers, children’s engagement declines (Eccles & Midgley, 1990). This decline is particularly striking for girls in some areas such as mathematics and for members of academically stereotyped ethnic groups (Graham, 2001). Declines in engagement, particularly for girls and ethnic minorities, naturally raises the question of what characteristics of school and classroom life may contribute to these declines, and what may be done prevent this decline.

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