Strategies for Teaching Realistic Optimism

A recent article in Edutopia talks about the role of educators in teaching realistic optimism. Realistic optimists see the path to success as full of twists and turns. Consequently, they are not risk-averse. Teaching students about optimism can help them see unpleasant events as learning opportunities.

The term negativity bias refers to a human brain’s responsiveness to negative, unpleasant events. At the end of a school day, if a teacher is focused on the one instance that didn’t go so well, compared with the many events that did go well, they are exhibiting this bias. Modeling optimism is the best way to combat negativity bias, but there are several other things a teacher can do as well.

The Lotus School uses tools such as positive re-framing, selective focus, averting catastrophizing and humor to help students to examine common negative narratives with an optimistic explanatory style.