, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 397-414
Date: 17 Nov 2012

Pedagogies of Hope

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Abstract

Hoping is an integral part of what it is to be human, and its significance for education has been widely noted. Hope is, however, a contested category of human experience and getting to grips with its characteristics and dynamics is a difficult task. The paper argues that hope is not a singular undifferentiated experience and is best understood as a socially mediated human capacity with varying affective, cognitive and behavioural dimensions. Drawing on the philosophy, theology and psychology of hope, five modes of hoping are outlined: patient, critical, sound, resolute and transformative. The key aim of the paper is to illustrate how different modes of hoping are associated with different pedagogical strategies. Phrased differently, the paper seeks to delineate a range of pedagogies of hope. The phrase ‘pedagogy of hope’ is very much associated with critical theory—one thinks instantly of, for example, Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux or bell hooks. There are many pedagogies of hope, however, and an explicitly conservative text such as William Bennett’s Book of Virtues has as strong a claim to the title as Freire’s radical and utopian ideas. A broader argument, therefore, is that there is nothing inherently radical or subversive about a pedagogy of hope. Pedagogies of hope can serve to reproduce social relations as well as to transform them.