Pygmalion: What George Bernard Shaw Could Teach Students About Management and Human Potential

The attitude of a teacher to his student can directly affect the performance of the latter. If
the teacher believes a certain student cannot perform well, their belief will come true. If
they believe the student will perform poorly, that’s likely how it shall be.

According to the Pygmalion effect, any person who mentors, educates, directs, or gives
training to others can directly affect their student performance. George Bernard Shaw
gives an example of a lady and a flower girl. The difference is in their behavior is in how
they are treated and not in their real personality.

Expectations versus performance

Through the 1960s, various studies were done on the relationship between teacher
expectations on students versus performance. The commonest question was if a
teacher’s expectations would have a prophetic fulfillment on their students regardless of
a student’s IQ.

After many years of study, the Pygmalion effect was proved right because, according to
the study, many people testified to have achieved something after another person put
high expectations on them. Based on that expectation, they worked harder, thought
harder, and searched for knowledge until they fulfilled that expectation.

In school, when instructors put higher expectations on their students, the students tend
to work harder and develop time management skills to improve performance. It is a way
to activate their potential without the use of pain or gifts.

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Phases of Pygmalion effect in the classroom

Teachers may create higher expectations in their students even without their knowledge.
After exams and assignments, a teacher might create a habit of reading the results and
making reports to the student. He can also analyze the results and pin them to the report
on the board. Indirectly he has created a high level of anticipation in his students.

In the next phase, the teacher might start to make positive comments about the good
performers and negative about the poor performers. This will automatically change the
behavior of the two. Good performers will get ready mentally to perform better and some
of the poor performers will get ready to improve while others will get ready to maintain
the status quo.

The final phase will be the results. Depending on how the teacher treats the students,
the results will show in each student. Their human potential becomes affected by the
actions of their trainer or the authority above them.

Lessons learned from Pygmalion

There are a lot of lessons students can learn from George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 five-act
play. These are lessons students can apply to become performers in education and

Consider the people under you
Always consider the bigger picture and don’t dwell on the shortcomings too much. For
example, in education, the bigger picture is completing the syllabus to help students
pass exams. Give them what is important to them, which is education regardless of

Remove the illusion
Most misunderstandings and arguments arise due to a lack of proper communication. If
it’s not done properly, the rest of the team gets an illusion that the issue has been
resolved. But since the manager or teacher knows it hasn’t, it will result in arguments
because their expectations were not met.

Don’t waste your youth
Most people look back to the time when they were young and realize they wasted too
much precious time. The challenge is that it is too late and they can only work with their

remaining time. The best lesson is to manage your time when you are young and make
the best use of it. You will have no regrets later in life.


In 1912, George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion. His main aim was to criticize the
English society of his time because it was living in separate social classes. Students can
learn many lessons from the play but the most important are lessons about management
and human potential. They should ensure they plan to succeed but not fail.
Communication is an important aspect of success. Getting ready to adapt to change is
good but team dynamics always come into play.

Author’s Bio

Robert Everett is a word magician. It’s the most suitable introduction for him as he is
really passionate about writing and editing and has helped numerous students overcome
their writing issues by assisting them with high-quality academic research, writing,
editing and guidance on outlines. He dreams of starting a writing agency someday.


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