Cutting Your Losses: Could Best-Practice Pedagogy Involve Acknowledging that Even Robust Hope May Be Vain?

Aug. 20, 2009

Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 333 - 345 (August 2009).

A recent special issue of Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education (Vol. 35, Issue 3, 2007) championed 'robust hope' as fundamental to achieving educational utopias, and yet key features of hope were largely overlooked. Although hope feels good and has utility in some circumstances, in other situations different motivations - positive (e.g. curiosity) or negative (e.g. frustration) - may offer greater pedagogical value.
Given its intrinsic uncertainty, robust hope is often indistinguishable from vain hope (before the fact). Hence, robust hope may lead to:
(1) failure;
(2) an exacerbation of existing judgement biases; and
(3) emotional reasoning. Given these attendant risks, best-practice principles require that the net pedagogical impact of robust hope be assessed.
Occasionally, cutting one's losses is rational - not cynical or apathetic, as suggested by earlier contributors. Positioning robust hope as 'realistic risk taking' does not resolve the aforementioned problems.
In the end, a combination of motivations (possibly, although not necessarily, including hope) will likely provide the best pedagogical outcomes.

Updated: Oct. 21, 2009