What is the big deal about 'hope?'
What is the big deal about 'hope?'
In the 1950s, Curt Ritcher, the famous biologist who identified the hypothalamus as the "biological pacemaker," conducted an experiment on rats. The experiment involved letting rats drown to death. He engaged in the experiment to understand the mechanics of their resilience in the face of adversity.
Curt Ritcher dropped a few wild rats and domestic ones in two separate buckets of water to observe how long they swam around to stay alive. Surprisingly, he observed, the more aggressive wild rats gave up sooner than the docile domestic ones. They gave up the struggle to survive in 15 minutes.
Curt Ritcher wanted to understand if their willingness to struggle was due to a past positive survival experience. This time around, he selected a new cohort of wild rats and saved some of them during the experiment. They dried them, let them breathe for a bit, and put them back in the buckets. The 'saved' rats swam around for 60 minutes more than the others who were not, before they gave up and drowned. The big question is: were they hopeful for 60 minutes, or were they just toxically positive?
Hope, indeed, is a big deal!
We survive and thrive, inspired by hope. However, 'hope' also is the most misunderstood word. Toxic positivity masquerades as hope, misleading us. We are sometimes unable to look at difficult situations courageously and objectively, and end up using phrases such as: be positive, cheer up, look on the bright side, move on, everything will be okay, be brave, etc. We use this as an escape mechanism so that we do not have to deal with adversities head on. The following link is a thought-provoking piece by Anju Gupta about how toxic positivity in a school can sabotage staff morale.
What do experts say about 'hope?'
Now, let us explore the idea of toxic positivity a little deeper. We do not talk about failures in detail. We glorify success. It leads to toxic positivity. They say, 'tragic optimism is the antidote to toxic positivity.' Psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl coined the term 'tragic optimism.' It involves meaning-making amidst inevitable tragedies.
What does this mean? An experience does not directly affect us. It is the meaning we attach to the experience that positively or negatively impacts us. In other words, tragic optimism is about how we process a traumatic experience. Hope comes to our rescue as we process trauma. In short, hope is not about staying toxically positive. Staying hopeful involves three clear mental steps. When we wrote about why Innerkern wants to inspire hope about learning, we had tried to capture the essence of these three steps. You will find the three essential steps we usually take when hope guides our actions in the following link.
How do Learning Meets inspire hope about learning?
As you may already know, Innerkern is an applied education research and learning solutions company that works with school leaders, teachers, and parents. We consider every adult learning intervention by Innerkern as an opportunity to apply design thinking principles to developing school improvement and parent support solutions.
Stay with us! We want to tell you how we go about it. At Innerkern, an intentional sense of empathy guides us as we look at the data we gather during interventions and go on to clearly define the challenges faced by the people we are to engage. We ideate and design intervention-approach prototypes to address these well-defined needs. We consider every opportunity you give us to work with a group of school leaders, teachers, or parents as platforms to test these intervention-approach prototypes.
In other words, Innerkern is engaged in a never-ending cycle of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing at work. We do this because we agree with Naval Ravikant when he says, 'Science applied is the engine of humanity.' We want to add, science applied is the engine of humanity and hope about learning is the fuel that runs it.
We want to inspire hope about learning by applying the science of learning to the art of schooling and parenting our children. The Leader Learning Meets and Teacher Learning Meets we do in schools are great examples. What are Learning Meets? You can visit the following link to gain more clarity on how the Learning Meets we do are simultaneously applied research interventions and adult learning solutions that inspire hope about learning in people who attend them.
Once again, thank you for being a part of this 'Hope Movement!' We are happy to see how the educator and parent community in India are actively joining hands to take Innerkern's message of hope forward.
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