A Word on Hope

Earlier this week, I shared an article by NPR education blogger Anya Kamenetz titled “Hope, Agency, Mastery, and Other Terms Educators are Redefining,” with our faculty and staff. One of the things that struck me about this article is the way in which it specifically integrates the idea of hope as an important “watchword” of education, alongside other concepts and definers we as progressive educators are already well-acquainted with — like “differentiation,” and “interest-driven” and “project-based” learning.

In her piece, Kamenetz writes about Gallup — the global analytics and advice firm widely recognized for its public opinion polls — and their research into the importance of hope. “They define hope not as a thing with feathers, but as a ‘strategy,’ of forming goals,” Kamenetz explains, “understanding the paths to take to reach those goals and having the energy to set off on that path.” In this way, hope is viewed less as an emotion, and more as a skill that can be developed and practiced over time.

It’s an interesting idea, and one of course that can be easily applied to the way we do things here at CSW. Each and every day, seeing our students in action, watching them expanding ideas, and pursuing their passions, fills each and every one of us with hope for the future and all that this generation might one day accomplish. And as educators, it is our job to share this sense of hope, and ensure that it is harnessed not only in ourselves, as adults, but in our students as well.

Gallop defines hope as “ideas and energy for the future,” and claims that people feel most hopeful when they have “attainable goals, the ability to see multiple pathways to achieve those goals, and agency — i.e. a belief that you can achieve your goals.” Of course, sometimes goals can be lofty, and difficult to achieve, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be hope. Rather, the more difficult the goal, the more important it is that students see and understand the “multiple pathways,” they can take to get there, using the skills and knowledge they acquire here at CSW to sustain the hope they need to propel themselves onward. Hope, however, is not that unattainable thing out there in the ether; it can be a driver, every day, a way of informing our  problem-solving.

Energy, confidence, perspective, agency — these are all responses we aim to inspire through our PACE [Promoting Awareness and Community Engagement] co-curriculum. It is a program whose potential fills me with great joy, in large part due to the hope it will instill in our students. Because hope is contagious — starting out small and growing bigger and more powerful with time, and we are excited to continue its spread beyond our small campus. I HOPE you can be a part of it too.

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.