Attacking and blaming teachers, unions, and the state of schools is a popular tactic by many “school reformers” (see Did You Know That THE Key To Saving American Education Is Firing Bad Teachers? and The Media’s War On Teachers).
It’s also been a very effective tactic.
Obviously, many of our schools are facing real challenges, but, if you consider all the schools in the United States, a relatively small percentage are the basket cases that reformers make a large number of them out to be. And research tends to back-up much more positive approaches to improving schools.
So why are they so effective?
This study might have a partial answer to that question. Researchers found “that negative instances tend to be more influential than comparably positive ones.” In other words, we all tend to have a bias towards believing negative things as opposed to positive news.
In addition to being aware of this in the political arena, this bias is probably important for us teachers to remember in the classroom, too. It wouldn’t surprise me if this bias holds true for our students when they hear us talk about them and to them, and to parents when we talk about their kids. It’s a reminder to try to always outweigh our negative messages with positive ones.