November 27, 2013

Maine Voices: Adding hope to the curriculum empowers students in class and life

We need to engender hopefulness in a generation that faces formidable challenges.

By Brad Choyt, head of school at North Yarmouth Academy

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Brad Choyt is head of school at North Yarmouth Academy in Yarmouth.

Of course, aspirations are not always achievable. And when they are not realized or when it is evident that an outcome may never materialize, it is important to help students re-frame their intended outcomes. In these cases, the best strategy may be to take a different tack or modify the goal while aligning new outcomes that may also increase hope. This may be particularly important to do when there is a limited amount of time, energy or resources.

The payoff for cultivating hope in today’s youth is well worth the effort. Generally, students who are more hopeful experience less anxiety and are willing to take greater risks. Hopeful students also bring more energy to our schools and communities, and hopeful people create a ripple effect of hope for others.

And hopefulness can be a powerful legacy to leave our current students as they begin to tackle even more complex challenges their generation will face. We have little to lose in trying to engender more of it. Hope is, after all, its own reward. To return to Dickinson, she reminds us that even after hope’s arrived and done its work, it “never – in Extremity ... asked a crumb – of me.”

— Special to the Press Herald

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