Hopes, Dreams, Aspirations, Ambitions, Fantasies, Nightmares and Regret

Hope is a funny thing.

I was chatting to a colleague a few months ago about my #purposedu post of 1st May, where I pronounced that the purpose of education is Hope. While I see my role as bringing hope to children, he saw hope as a more negative thing. For him, hopes were things he once had, that he could now no longer achieve. Hopes for a different kind of family, hopes for a different kind of career. Hopes that were now unattainable. Hopes that were now regrets.

I’ve been listening to people since then and have noticed that whenever people mention a ‘hope’ word, they mention it in pairs. Each hope word has a partner to help explain it together.

I think people say words in pairs when they don’t really understand what they mean. For example you hear people say: “teaching and learning”; “monitoring and assessment”; “morals and ethics”… It is when you’re not completely sure of a word’s definition that you have to pair it with another word.

Hope words are the same.

Think about this – how different is it to say “dreams and aspirations” from “dreams and nightmares”, and indeed “dreams and fantasies.” Each one has entirely different connotations.

A hope is something that you wish would happen, a fantasy is likewise, but has more negative connotations and for most people achieving your ‘fantasies’ is contrary to achieving success. An aspiration is something you would like to become, but so is an ambition – but the former has more positive connotations about achieving within an ethical framework, whereas ambition speaks of drivenness.

Regrets too can drive you onto succeed – that is certainly true for my colleague I mentioned above. While he has seen his ‘hopes dashed’, he has used his regrets to drive him on to become a quite marvellous headteacher.

Hope for me is important. Bringing hopes into families where there is none, is important to me. But I recognise that the words around the subject can both be used synonymously and can have radically different meanings to different people. Funny really.

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