Halstrom Blog Post

Changing Your Lens: How Optimism Influences Your Reality

Changing Your Lens: How Optimism Influences Your Reality

In our current world, pessimism talks to us through our news channels, social media, and even the classroom environment. Students often find themselves bogged down with negativity and consequently, their self-esteem and educational success suffer. But in a positive environment, that same troubled or depressed student can flourish, even in the midst of hardship or bad grades. Why does optimism and positive thinking play such a crucial role in your teens' success, both in school and as he or she becomes active members of society?

In Shawn Achor's poignant TED talk titled "The Happiness Advantage: Research Linking Happiness and Success," he delves into the way our reality is shaped, not by reality itself, but by the lens through which our brain views the world around us. When negative influences burden your student, his or her lens becomes more pessimistic. But if you can change that lens, you can change any educational outcome or hardship that plagues them.

One effective way to change that lens is to change the environment that surrounds them. If someone asks, "how fast can a student learn to read in the classroom?" science changes that question to "how fast can the average student learn to read in the classroom?" and then the classroom is tailored to that average. If your student falls below that average, he or she is quickly categorized as having a learning difference, depressed, or they have a disorder or all of the above. The focus of professionals is to then make your student normal again. However, normal is just the average. What if your student was in a classroom that focused on what made them unique? If your student is above average in sports, academia, music, or how they process the world around them...how would they react in an environment that saw those exceptional qualities and instead of bringing them up to average in areas they struggle in, they brought the entire average up to where your student individually accelerates? (Shawn Achor).

For instance, Halstrom Academy is not your typical classroom environment. At Halstrom, with the use of customized 1:1 instruction and flexible scheduling, your teen is the main focus of his or her personalized education. Halstrom teachers take the time to focus on unique abilities and build-up problem areas without damaging self-esteem. How is this possible? "Pessimistic people tend to view problems as internal, unchangeable, and pervasive, whereas optimistic people are the opposite. Pessimism has been linked with depression, stress, and anxiety (Kamen & Seligman, 1987), whereas optimism has been shown to serve as a protective factor against depression," (Pursuit of Happiness). Essentially, by focusing on positivism in a student's learning environment, a bad grade is simply something that can be changed through some tweaking and does not reflect on them as a person. In a public school environment, struggling students often see their grades and challenges in direct correlation to their work ethic, their "smarts," and even their success or failure in the future, leading to low self-esteem, depression, and an "I give up" attitude.

As teens move through the school system, they are increasingly vulnerable to positive and negative influences around them. Halstrom Academy surrounds students with positive thinking, despite struggles or failures students may encounter along the way. Each student's education is tailored to how he or she prefers to learn. Halstrom teachers exemplify optimism to teach students how to view the world around them through an optimistic lens. Campus life at Halstrom creates positive peer-to-peer relationships in various clubs and community outreach opportunities. Visit the Halstrom Academy website and call to schedule a tour to discover how their mission supports cultivating an optimistic lens through which your student views his or her ever-developing reality.