Many years ago, an experiment in education was carried out in secrecy at a school in England. The school had two classes for the same age of children. At the end of the school year an examination was held, in order to select the children for the classes of next year. However, the results of the exam were never revealed In secrecy, with only the principal and the psychologists knowing the truth, the child who came first in the exam was placed in the same class with the children who came fourth and fifth, eight and ninth, twelfth and thirteenth, and so on.
While the children who came second and third in the exam were placed in the other class, with the children who came sixth and seventh, tenth and eleventh, and so on. In other words, based on their performance in the exam, the children were split evenly between the two classes. Teachers for the next year were carefully selected for equal ability. Even the classrooms were chosen with similar facilities. Everything was made as equal as possible, except for one thing: one was called’ Class A’, the other was called ‘Class B’.
In fact, the classes had children of equal ability. But in everyone’s mind the children in Class A were the clever ones, and the kids of Class B were not so clever. Some of the parents of the Class A children were pleasantly surprised that their child had done so well and rewarded them with favours and praise, whereas the parents of some of the Class B kids berated their children for not working hard enough and took away some of their privileges. Even the teachers taught the Class B kids in different manner, not expecting so much from them. For a whole year the illusion was maintained. Then there was another end-of- year exam.
The results were chilling, but not surprising. The children of Class A performed so much better than those of Class B. In fact, the results were just as if they had been the top half chosen from last year’s exam. They had become Class A children. And those in the other group, though equal the year before had now become Class B kids. That was what they were told for a whole year, that was how they were treated, and that was what they believed-so that was what they become.
[Opening the Door of Your Heart – By : Ajahn Brahmavamso]