Saturday, July 28, 2007

Anatomy of expectations ...

Kuffir cuts open these curious things called 'expectations':

you think so little of me- that is the problem. you think so little of me that you feel i don't even deserve political freedom (because 'poor, illiterate people cannot meaningfully use their political freedom'- don't you mean 'sufficiently poor' people like me?). political freedom that would help me influence the way people like you look at people like me, no matter how you think of me. am i wrong if i say you make me think of other, more famous, worthies who had very similar ideas about who deserved political freedom and who did not?

i repeat, the problem is not that you expect less of me but that you think less of me. and as long as you carry this contempt, much like you carry your cherished surname, across centuries and continents and careers, you'd always have low expectations of me.


  1. Anonymous said...


    In the comments section of one of your earlier posts you said:

    The "ugly" conclusions that I am referring to are ugly only because of the determinism that they imply, and because of the loose use of words for large groups in a way that tends to stereotype their members.

    The blog that you have (approvingly?) cited in this post makes similar ugly generalizations about large groups of people. Do you condone such comments?

    Estimated expectations operate in all aspects of life. For instance, if you are from an IIT the social expectation of you is high. Hence you try to work hard to meet those expectations. If you are from Manipal Institute of Technology the expectation is low and you perform accordingly. Similarly if broken windows and uncut grass are the norm in your neighborhood you don't have much incentive to keep the front of your home clean. Usually it takes an exceptional individual to show people how to change expectations from low to high.

    In Shillong, one lower middle class neighborhood made of a few hundred people generated all the toppers (and a significant number of top 10 students) in the state 10th and 12th standard exams for a number of years in the mid 1980s. That was possible because other people in that neighborhood saw that such a thing was possible when the first exceptional individual showed how it was done. What is needed for improving expectations are outstanding role models.

  2. Abi said...

    Read Kuffir's post again, Anon, and look at where his generalizations are coming from. They are a reaction -- from the 'other side' if you will -- to the clumsy generalizations in IEBlog's posts.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the Shillong neighbourhood with high performers. While I am against overstating the case for 'expectations', I don't want to downplay it either. I just find it a little too blunt as an explanatory instrument.