The League Of Panglossians

If you want to get on in education then you’ve got to be a Panglossian pedagogue.

This means to be extremely optimistic regardless of the circumstances (especially in the face of hardship or adversity) and comes from Dr. Pangloss, an old, incurably optimistic tutor in Voltaire’s philosophical satire Candide.  He believed that this world is “the best of all possible worlds.”

To be called Panglossian might not be a compliment because it is seen by some to be a foolish, unrealistic way of thinking and a symbol of foolhardy optimism.

It is seen as self-deception and wishful thinking, ironic or disparaging.

I disagree.

In teaching, you need unerring Panglossianism to keep in the game.

To have a Panglossian confidence and optimism is essential because you are bombarded with challenges that will test you to the core.

There are so many changes, strategies and initiatives to deal with, you have to adopt an optimistic outlook to survive and thrive.

Teaching is no soft option and there is always plenty to upend you which is why it is important to keep espousing optimism and being unfailingly positive despite the odds.

Adopting a doctrine of optimism is something we need to do. Things might not be good but that doesn’t mean we have to give up and sink with the ship in a sea of toxicity.

The secret of happiness is to cultivate the garden you find yourself in. No system is perfect and so make it the best it can be, until something better turns up because it will.

Teaching needs optimists not whingers and moaners.

It needs teachers to keep personal politics out of the classroom and the staffroom too. Negative and toxic teachers don’t help students combat learned helplessness or engage in positive reframing if they can’t do it themselves.

Schools are healthier and happier places when there is a culture of optimism and hope whistling through the corridors. This optimism is the engine of resiliency.

A collective efficacy and optimism is directly related to students’ positive outcomes.

Staff need to display an optimism that students can learn, change and improve and the language of optimism is one way teachers can have a profound, positive impact on the lives of their students.

But being a positive role model for students doesn’t mean always putting on a happy face, being constantly upbeat and jumping about the place. It’s OK for teachers to display other emotions too.

They need to see the reality that we all have bad days – the important thing is to show them how we manage them and bounce back.

Being too optimistic can lead to impracticality and overconfidence. Mental strength stems from a good balance of realism and optimism.

This said, being positive for the majority of the time is good for your wellbeing and for everyone around you.

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