Shawshank Redemption, hope and uncertainty

One of my classes just finished reading The Shawshank Redemption, so–of course–it’s totally on my mind. What most people don’t realize about The Shawshank Redemption is that it’s about hope. At it’s core, hope is the force that drives Andy to escape. Red is hopeless; he doesn’t believe that he will get out before there are three or four “marbles” jostling around in his head. Red learns from Andy’s hope, though: he comes to discover that what Andy says is true: “Hope is a good thing; maybe even the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

The movie botches the book a bit, as movies usually do. At the end of the movie (stop reading if you don’t want the ending spoiled for you…), the audience sees Red as he meets up with Andy in Mexico. At the end of the book (called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption), however, Red only hopes to meet up with his friend and shake his hand: he only hopes that the Pacific is as blue as it has been in his dreams.

Hope–real hope–requires uncertainty. If a certain outcome exists, then there is simply no need for hope. It then become simply knowledge, simply waiting for the facts to arrive.

So people reading this probably think that I am writing about Shawshank, and I am–sort of. But really I am only setting context for what I really want to write about: fighting battles that don’t have a certain outcome, fighting battles that we may not win–or worse–have our hearts broken because of the fight.

I ask this: how many battles have you fought, only hoping to win? What are they? Were they worth the fight?

I hope that people can answer the above questions with many examples in mind, with some victories, perhaps, and probably some heartbreak.

My battle for the past year is about education. Sure, I have fought other ones–some that I have lost and some that I have won–and the people reading this who know me well know of the non-education battles that I continue to fight.

The battle for education, for my school district, might be one of the more important battles: it’s luckily not a battle that I am facing alone, not even close to alone.

Perhaps, though, it’s a battle that even more people should be fighting. More teachers. More administrators. More board members. More.

Sometimes it does seem hopeless; sometimes I think that I should listen to my mom and get a different job.

I have hope, though, and I know the power of persistence. As did Andy: “Andy smiled his small, composed smile and asked Stammas what would happen to a block of concrete if a drop of water fell on it once every year for a million years. Stammas laughed and clapped Andy on the back. ‘You got no million years, old horse….”

It only took Andy 27 years, though. And I have time and persistence. And hope.

I just hope that other teachers have hope.

One thought on “Shawshank Redemption, hope and uncertainty

Add yours

  1. I have a great amount of hope that a small group of committed people can change the world (as beautifully said by Margaret Mead). To me, nothing is more noble than the fight for our future…the fight for our students…the fight to preserve learning in our classrooms. I heard a great quote at a teacher dinner about a month ago. The speaker said, “If you’re not at the table, you’ll be on the menu.” So true. Fight on! A hundred drops of water on the brick weekly cuts down the million years quite a bit.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: