This chapter explores the role of education in helping to realise positive futures for those who live and work in contexts where there seems to be little hope. Hope and hopelessness, and in particular, the damaging impact of inciting hope without action or care are a particular focus. This chapter is premised on the view that a challenging role for education is to construct learning environments in which a sense of purpose, hope, optimism and care prevail. To illustrate the pervasive complexities and tensions at the intersection of education, hope and despair, two contrasting narratives are told and analysed. Both narratives are set in non-formal education programs for women in India. The participants in both of these programs could be described as being at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in terms of personal power, economic security and the ability to have agency in their lives. The contrasting conditions of these programs illustrate how education has the potential to be a powerful agent for fostering hope and optimism as well as a very real responsibility in situations where there is little reason for hope. We then illustrate how these conditions not only occur in developing countries, but are evident in our own, Australia. This chapter asks; in the midst of the lived experiences of powerlessness, and hopelessness, what agency and wise practices might education adopt to provoke hope, optimism and aspirations for a life where all can thrive and what changes are needed for this to occur.
Wise societies take seriously the evidence that populations worldwide are ageing. Age sociologists and gerontologists argue that past and current practices in caring for older adults are not appropriate indicators for the future, because each generational cohort is born into a unique point in history. Each cohort’s accompanying life chances shape the uniqueness of their expectations regarding as well as functional and cognitive capacity in their later years. Thus, wise practice for aged care needs to be evidence-informed and based on an understanding that ageing is an ever-changing social construct. The United Nations and the World Health Organization have established goals to promote healthy, active ageing and age friendly environments globally, maintaining an overview across nations regarding emerging ageing demographics and the well-being of older citizens in each country. The UN and WHO gather and analyse trends worldwide to provide guidance for governments and service providers to assist them to translate the information into appropriate action in local contexts. It is questionable, however, whether individual Governments make adequate use of this guidance? Wise Government agendas should aim to combat ageism, enable autonomy, and account for cultural, gender, and sexual diversity as well as elderly citizens’ socio-economic differences in life chances. Wise societies should seek active engagement of older people, respect their wisdom and value the contributions that older people have made, and continue to make, to their families and their communities.