I recently saw that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical, and one song really caught my attention. It took the common saying of “you have to see it to believe it” and gave it a twist in the song It Must Be Believed to Be Seen.

One of the verses is:

Beyond this door’s a factory
Begat from just a bean
Beyond this door
Surprises in store
But it must be believed to be seen


Applications in Education
This line resonated with me more than I would have expected. It made me think of all the times I’ve been hesitant to commit or take action until I’ve seen that I’ll get the results I want. It made me wonder how many kids I did not help enough because I did not believe that they were putting in the effort I wanted or how many times I skipped topics from my curriculum because I didn’t believe that students who were missing fundamental skills could do more advanced work.

It also reminded me of the Pygmalion effect which demonstrated that teachers’ pre-conceived expectations of students affected those students’ actual results. In the study, 20% of students at a single California elementary school (note the small sample size) were randomly labeled as “intellectual bloomers”. They tested all the students early on and later in the year, and students who were labeled as “intellectual bloomers” showed statistically significant gains compared to their peers. While the actual study has been hard to replicate, it suggest that whether we believe a student can or cannot be successful, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Put another way, when teachers believed that the students could be great, it was eventually seen.

I wonder where else this might apply. How would you complete this sentence? Please let me know in the comments below.

In education, we need to believe ___________________ so we can see it.


What do you think about this? Have you had similar experiences? How would you complete the sentence above? Please let me know in the comments.

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