04 Dec 2016

Hopeful schools

Wow! This is an amazing book. I read this from cover to cover in one sitting and I loved it. Mary Myatt’s gentle wisdom and humour shines through every page to remind the reader of the positive action and affirmation that emerges when we experience feelings of hope instead of helplessness.

Mary’s extensive experience of working alongside teachers and school leaders enables her to provide reflection on leadership practice that is enabling and supportive of others. She embraces and recognizes the vital importance of qualities such as generosity and kindness; convincing us through carefully chosen stories of practice that when there is hope we not only feel better, we can act to make things better.

This is a ‘feel-good’ read precisely because it is rooted in reality. We are not swept away on a tide of relentless rudderless optimism. Far from it, we experience through Mary’s storytelling, her utter insistence that we only feel better when we fully face our challenges. She never asks us to look away. Instead, we realize that instead of denying difficulty, we need to act. She describes the way that leaders can respond to challenge by supporting their organization to collaborate with collective purpose borne out of a ‘can-do’ ethos that includes everybody. Her examples range from the individual child and his need to be noticed, to the extent in which as adults we can act even when there is temptation to believe that nothing can be done. Instances of horrific global events can make us experience a sense of helplessness, but this book reminds us that when we choose to respond locally through small acts of kindness we contribute collectively to a wider healing purpose.

Throughout the book, Mary uses real life everyday examples of people’s actions that embody a series of big ideas. She does not shy away from discussion of painful, challenging events that occur in our lives but instead focuses on how we can react positively in a manner that helps us to heal. Mary’s compelling thesis is that we should never give up. She illustrates this through vividly drawn examples that remind us what happens when we are able to live and work in a culture of optimism, trust and celebration of difference. When we work in schools or businesses where the dominant culture is one of collective endeavor, we can all feel supported to achieve more than any one of us might do alone.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you, especially if you are facing particular challenges that may feel almost impossible right now. We are helped to see that we are almost never alone in our anxieties. To read this book is to be reminded that when we face and act on our fears in life, we can begin to diminish them and replace them we lively irrepressible positive experiences that illustrate the power of hope.

Alison Peacock

'Hopeful Schools: building humane communities' is available now

comments powered by Disqus