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Hope in the Unexpected: How Can Teachers Still Make a Difference in the World?


by Julian Edgoose — 2010

Background/Context: The central role of hope in teaching has long been acknowledged by authors such as Sonia Nieto and Larry Cuban, but hope has received little focused attention from scholars. While books such as David Halpin’s Hope and Education and Stephen Fishman and Lucille McCarthy’s John Dewey and the Philosophy and Practice of Hope each shed light on one of the dominant views of hope, this article seeks to compare multiple understandings of hope to examine how teachers can find hope in times of global crises that challenge the promise of a better future that is implicit in modern schooling.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: How can teachers find hope in hard times, when the usual promise of schools for a better future seems difficult to sustain?

Research Design: This article is an analytic essay.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This article concludes that while the long-dominant understandings of hope are inadequate for many teachers at times like these, Arendt’s view of the hope that emerges in the unexpected occurrences of classroom life resonates strongly with the most rewarding and hopeful experiences of many teachers. Yet Arendt explains how the hope that teachers experience from these unpredictable and unexpected occurrences is not just a source of immediate reward, but rather contributes to political and social change. The article concludes with an account of Arendt’s critique of historians’ narratives of social change and an affirmation of the impact that teachers can have as agents of change.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 2, 2010, p. 386-406
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15738, Date Accessed: 11/24/2014 3:05:57 PM

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About the Author
  • Julian Edgoose
    University of Puget Sound
    JULIAN EDGOOSE is an associate professor of education at the University of Puget Sound. His research interests include teachers’ understandings of hope, teaching and social change, and environmental education. He is the author of many papers and book chapters including, most recently, “Radical Hope in Challenging Times: Learning Political Agency from the Politically Disenfranchised” in Educational Theory.
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