Jul 16, 2017
How we see things may be more important than what we see. Perspectives are paramount.
Many times, what we think we see is shaped by powerful influences that win out in the end.
Take, for example, studies conducted in an elementary school south of San Francisco by Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal. He used IQ tests on random students of average intelligence, and reported to teachers the findings suggested they were above average possessing potential to become high achievers. When Rosenthal returned in two years these average students had made substantial gains, having reshaped the teacher’s expectations about them.
He changed how the teachers viewed those students, thus changing the way they treated them.
Expectations are everything opening worlds of possibilities to those who otherwise never may be allowed to live up to their full God given potential.
There’s a documentary called “Brooklyn Castle” about Public School 318, a struggling middle school in the New York borough which decided to enter a chess tournament. Now it’s the first middle school to win the United States Chess Federation National High School championship and its chess programs are the best in the nation.
As documented by the film, 70 percent of students attending live below the poverty level and 90 percent are minority — Latino, black or Asian/Pacific. It’s not exactly a group expected to win chess championships.
I guess chess at 318 is more than a game. It’s a means to a greater end. It changed how others see kids from Brooklyn, thus reshaping all expectations of everyone around them.
These kids are escaping poverty, gaining chess scholarships and unlocking treasures of hidden potential, because 318 changed how it sees students.
There’s this story about a butler who spent his life working for one billionaire, who was extraordinarily wealthy and many attempted to exploit and monopolize his wealth. They only could see him for his riches.
His greatest desire was for others to love his son for who he was and not his wealth. But one thing stood in the son’s way. He was a very unattractive man, so people didn’t like to be around him because he was difficult to look at.
After the father died, the butler cared for the son for the rest of his life and they became close friends. The son literally had no one else and spent his life in seclusion in a huge mansion isolated from everyone except the butler.
After years passed, the butler saw past the way the son looked and began to really know him. It seemed he had so much to give besides his father’s wealth that the world would never know because of how they viewed him. But the butler was allowed the privilege to know the son for all the person he was.
Then, tragically, the son died prematurely and the butler buried him in isolation. When the time came to auction the billionaire’s fortune people came by the droves. The crowds were so large you couldn’t number them. A giant curtain inside the mansion was pulled back revealing treasures beyond anything anyone, including the butler, believed the billionaire possessed.
Starting the sale, the auctioneer revealed a painting inside the mansion. All the crowds looked away pleading to cover it back up. It was of the billionaire’s son. The auctioneer assured the crowds the billionaire insisted the painting of his son be auctioned first, then all the other treasures.
When the auctioneer opened the bidding, silence fell over the mansion. Were there no bids for the painting?
The auctioneer pleaded with the crowd, “Do I hear $20.00 for the painting? Does anyone have a bid for me?”
The crowd turned away in silence.
Just then a voice came from the back of the crowd. I bid $100 for the painting.
The auctioneer declared, “$100 going once, $100 going twice, $100 going three times; sold to the butler for $100.”
Then the auctioneer announced the auction was over. There was uproar from the crowd. The auctioneer explained it was stated clearly in the billionaire’s will if anyone bid on his son’s painting they received the entire fortune and the auction would be immediately closed.
The butler had the privilege of really knowing the son and that’s why he bid on his painting, earning the right to inherit the family fortune.
Sometimes there’s more to a person than meets the eye. If we would only change our expectations, it could open the world for someone’s son or daughter and open us up to a world of possibilities beyond our belief.
Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.