Hope can spring pupil performance;Research focus;Briefing

1st October 1999 at 01:00
TEACHERS who have hope and demonstrate it to their pupils can motivate even those considered ineducable by others. But while a hopeful disposition has been acknowledged as an important trait in other "caring" professions, it has been ignored in teacher training.

A small international investigation looked at seven female and five male teachers considered to be particularly caring. The authors of the study, interviewed four teachers in England, Ireland and the United States. One of the Americans worked in a school considered to be among the worst in the country.

Researchers defined hope as believing in the worth and potential of every individual, having high expectations and goals for oneself and others and persevering, even in the face of obstacles.

The teachers described hope as the belief that everybody can succeed, that learning is lifelong and not just about exams, and said that their job was to bring out the best in the student through high expectations of themselves and the.young people. All were concerned about the fine line between high expectations and demanding too much. They were also aware that expectations had to be accompanied by explicit action and support.

Crucially, there was a shared understanding that while social factors have an impact on performance, other issues were also important. As a teacher from England said: "(Social background) will change my approach to the child's learning, but not my expectations of their achievement."

"Hope as a factor in teachers' thinking and classroom practice", by Vivienne Collinson, Michigan State University, Maureen Killeavy, University College Dublin, H Joan Stephenson, De Montfort University. E-mail vcollinson@home.com

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