The other day I was listening to a speaker talk about hope and resilience, and how as a society we need to examine them in the midst of cascading crises in our world. There are many challenges facing our profession: COVID, curriculum, collective bargaining, funding and op-ed articles that purposely misrepresent teachers. So how do we stay hopeful, especially since the pandemic keeps delivering setback after setback, stress after stress?
The first step is to be honest about what we are facing and move away from saying “it’s not so bad.” We need to then seek out allies, and with them, create a vision of the future we want to see, not the one that is being handed to us. This gives us agency to work toward that future, because if we don’t work together, we can’t address our concerns together. The speaker went on to comment that we need to challenge our way of thinking about hope. That we need to change our stance of saying “I hope that,” which is passive, to a stance of saying “I hope to,” which is more active, as the phrase “I hope to” is usually followed by a verb.
This comment really stuck with me, and I spent a lot of time reflecting about it and how I can incorporate it into my own thinking. Instead of saying something like “I hope that the government listens” to whatever issue is of great concern (and there is a lot out there), it would be more effective to say something like “I hope to act on that issue.”
Let’s take the curriculum as an example. We could hope that the government listens to reason and to the majority of Albertans who say they oppose this draft and want to start over. But, as the speaker noted, that’s passive and leads to hopelessness, especially as we have seen the government not move off its plans. Instead, what if we changed it to something more active. I suggest that changing “hope” to “plan” makes it even more active, so the statement becomes “I plan to email my MLA this week about curriculum, or “I plan to read the ATA’s critical analysis of the curriculum and share it with one other person.”
It’s a small change but one that is more attainable especially in our busy lives. One small action at a time. One thing we can move toward. We know that many small things add up. One hopeful action at a time. ❚