Published on January 28, 2023
Imagine standing at the base of a mountain, staring up at the towering peaks you’re about to climb. You can’t help but feel a sense of uncertainty and fear. You like hiking, but this mountain is different. It’s taller, steeper, and the trail is more treacherous than any you have ever attempted. You’re starting to wonder, “can I do this”? But this is a goal you have had for years, and you want to see that vista. You hope you can do it. You take a deep breath, lace up your boots, and begin the ascent. With each step, you push through the pain, doubt and uncertainty. When you reach the top, you feel a sense of triumph and accomplishment. It’s a moment you’ll never forget.
Of course, the journey of climbing a mountain is a metaphor for overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. It’s often so easy to find excuses to give up on things when they seem challenging and impossible. Still, when we have the tools and mindset to visualise possible futures, think about and plan for those futures, and to maintain motivation to move towards them, we are drawing on feelings of hope to do this.
As adults and educators, it’s our responsibility to encourage and nurture hope in the young people around us. But why is hope so crucial for today’s youth?
Before we get any further, let’s define hope. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all.”
Research suggests that Australian students today have a lower sense of hope than previous generations and students in other countries. Studies have found that students face increased stress and anxiety levels and struggle to cope with the pressure to succeed academically and socially. Factors such as the prevalence of social media, the cost of living, climate change and worldwide political and economic unrest may all contribute to a sense of hopelessness among young people.
That same study surveyed over 1,000 students and found that students who perceived themselves as having high levels of social support, positive self-perception, and confidence had higher levels of hope. The study also found that students with higher levels of hope had better overall wellbeing and mental health outcomes. It may sound concerning, but it is important to note that there are also studies that indicate that students are resilient and can recover from hopelessness if they are provided with the right support and resources.
Hope is vital for young people because it allows them to envision a brighter future for themselves and for others.
Could hope be the missing ingredient that could change the course of a young person’s life? What if hope was the spark that ignited a passion and a purpose? Could hope be the key that unlocked a student’s potential and helped them to overcome obstacles and challenges?
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes at Hunter Valley Grammar School supports educators to do this by instilling a sense of hope in our students.
IB World Schools, like HVGS, support the development of students’ resilience and optimism to face local and global challenges head-on and nurture hope by fostering a sense of global citizenship. Through the IB’s focus on international-mindedness, students learn to understand and appreciate different cultures, perspectives, and ways of life. This helps them see the world as a place full of possibilities rather than a place defined by division and conflict and generates feelings of hopefulness rather than hopelessness.
The IB Programmes at HVGS place an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving. We teach students to approach issues with a logical and analytical mindset and to understand and tackle problems with confidence. This helps develop a sense of agency and equips students with the skills they need to make a positive impact in the world while developing the self-awareness they need to face the world with hope and optimism.
Festival of Hope
You may have recently seen hopeful sentiments expressed on our social media channels as we celebrate the International Baccalaureate Festival of Hope. This annual event brings together students, educators, and community members worldwide to celebrate and share stories of hope, resilience, and change. By participating in the Festival of Hope, we are learning about the power of hope and are being inspired by the stories of others who have overcome adversity.
We wanted to ask our community about hope. In no more than three words, they shared with us “what inspires hope for the future.”
Here is just some of what was shared…
It seems we are already a hopeful community!
Hope is a fundamental human emotion critical for our well-being and survival. It gives us the strength to keep going when things are tough and helps us believe that things will improve. It is a powerful force that can change a person’s life and allows people to envision a brighter future, overcome obstacles and challenges, and achieve their goals.
How will you inspire hope today?