If you major in education, there is one study every university program shares with students. It was a Harvard study done in 1965. Basically, the study took random kids and told their teachers they had amazing potential for academic growth.
In actuality, some of the children were actually poor students. The researchers didn’t do anything else. At the end of the year, they went back and measured those “special” students’ academic success and growth compared to the average student.
What they found has been taught to potential educators ever since. Because the teachers believed those “special” students had great potential, the students actually lived up to the teachers’ belief in them – not their previous records.
So how does that impact you as a volunteer Bible class teacher? What you believe about your students’ spiritual potential will impact how much they can grow spiritually while in your class.
Why do we believe a secular academic study has spiritual potential? Dig deeper into the study and you can find the specific behaviors teachers changed when working with students whom they believed had great potential.
- They treated those students more warmly than their other students.
- They called on those students more often in class.
- They gave those students more helpful outside materials and resources about what they were studying.
- They listened to what those students had to say more actively and thoughtfully.
- They gave those students the benefit of the doubt more often, rather than automatically assuming the worst.
- They gave those students more helpful feedback.
There’s an old saying that children live up or down to your expectations of them. The best we can do for our Bible students is to truly believe God has given each one of them the potential to become mighty men and women of God.
Look at the list of the way teachers treated the students they thought had great potential. Work hard to treat all of your students that way. Pray for them to reach that potential. Because the reality is that as humans we really have no idea what the potential of one young person is- only God knows for sure.
Expecting the best from all of your students and treating them that way can change everything for some of them. It’s the best way though for all of your students to reach their godly potential.