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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and…
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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

by Paul Tough

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6112615,963 (3.88)23
Recently added byShannonMcHarg, private library, INorris, djroga76, Performance, Salsabrarian, margdunn
  1. 00
    Work hard. Be nice. : how two inspired teachers created the most promising schools in America by Jay Mathews (bluenotebookonline)
    bluenotebookonline: Both books feature an in-depth look at KIPP: Mathews focuses on the organization's early development and growth, while Tough focuses on KIPP's efforts to improve in later years.
  2. 00
    Why Don't Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham (bluenotebookonline)
    bluenotebookonline: Very readable book on cognitive science as it applies to teaching and learning. It's a nice complement to Tough's book, which focuses on the non-cognitive factors that influence a student's likelihood of success in school.
  3. 00
    Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (bluenotebookonline)
    bluenotebookonline: Tough goes broad on a range of non-cognitive factors that influence the likelihood that students will be successful (grit, perseverance, curiosity, etc.); Dweck goes deep on one factor (having a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset). Both are highly readable (though FWIW, I found Dweck repetitive and preferred Tough's book).… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Narrated by Dan John Miller. Thought-provoking and commonsense, this should urge adults working with youth, and adults who have children of their own, to look at how they can help all kids develop cognitively and non-cognitively with the aim of their becoming productive and successful adults. Reader Miller uses a straight and scholarly tone that took me a bit to settle in with. Unfortunately he chose to use a soft southern accent when voicing the black youth. It seems a tepid effort so it comes off awkwardly. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Success in education and in life involves a great deal more than having quality teachers and successfully completing schoolwork. Paul Tough compiles some fascinating research on the -- often invisible -- variables that affect how and how well children learn. From the permanent scar that numerous traumatic experiences in childhood potentially inscribe on our brains for the rest of our lives, to the ways in which challenges and failures build both character and long-term resilience. As a student who skated through K-12 with few challenges or failures and with little effort, only to find myself stumbling in a university setting, Tough's work evoked in me a number of "Aha!" moments, as well as considerations to bear in mind as I raise my own daughter. ( )
  ryner | Jan 9, 2016 |
How Children Succeed offers substantial evidence to support the growing school of thought (har har) that certain non-cognitive traits, loosely labeled character, are stronger predictors of life satisfaction and achievement than academic performance. Tough shows that these traits, far from being fixed and unchanging, can be engendered in children starting in infancy. I loved the research but was hoping for more information about how exactly to go about nurturing those traits. Other than discussing a few select programs across the country that are utilizing some of these character theories, and a section on infant attachment, there was little in the way of application. I would actually recommend this book to those interested in education systems more so than parents. But I still found it fascinating, and full of tidbits you can discuss over dinner. ( )
  mermaidatheart | Dec 1, 2015 |
While I sometimes felt the book jumped from topic to topic or tried to cover a little too much in its 200 pages, it was engagingly written and incredibly interesting. I've been talking to everyone I meet about its thesis and its various suggestions for educational reform. It has definitely given me a lot to think about, as an educator, a mentor to younger family members, and just a person trying to be an adult.

And, two years on, I continue to reference the book regularly, which is a sign that parts of it must have really resonated. ( )
  Tafadhali | Nov 18, 2015 |
Paul Tough shows that values and character are essential for children to achieve educational and life success. He provides detailed case studies, but sometimes I skimmed through the examples because there was too much detail. ( )
  proflinton | Jun 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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To Ellington, who prefers books about dump trucks
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In the summer of 2009, a couple of weeks after my son, Ellington, was born, I spent the day in a prekindergarten classroom in a small town in New Jersey.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547564651, Hardcover)

Q&A with Paul Tough

Paul Tough

Q. What made you want to write How Children Succeed?

A. In 2008, I published my first book, Whatever It Takes, about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone. I spent five years reporting that book, but when I finished it, I realized I still had a lot of questions about what really happens in childhood. How Children Succeed is an attempt to answer those questions, which for many of us are big and mysterious and central in our lives: Why do certain children succeed while other children fail? Why is it, exactly, that poor children are less likely to succeed, on average, than middle-class children? And most important, what can we all do to steer more kids toward success?

Q. Where did you go to find the answers?

A. My reporting for this book took me all over the country, from a pediatric clinic in a low-income San Francisco neighborhood to a chess tournament in central Ohio to a wealthy private school in New York City. And what I found as I reported was that there is a new and groundbreaking conversation going on, out of the public eye, about childhood and success and failure. It is very different than the traditional education debate. There are economists working on this, neuroscientists, psychologists, medical doctors. They are often working independently from one another. They don’t always coordinate their efforts. But they’re beginning to find some common ground, and together they’re reaching some interesting and important conclusions.

Q. A lot of your reporting for this book was in low-income neighborhoods. Overall, what did you learn about kids growing up in poverty?

A. A lot of what we think we know about the effect of poverty on a child’s development is just plain wrong. It’s certainly indisputable that growing up in poverty is really hard on children. But the conventional wisdom is that the big problem for low-income kids is that they don’t get enough cognitive stimulation early on. In fact, what seems to have more of an effect is the chaotic environments that many low-income kids grow up in and the often stressful relationships they have with the adults around them. That makes a huge difference in how children’s brains develop, and scientists are now able to trace a direct route from those early negative experiences to later problems in school, health, and behavior.

The problem is that science isn’t yet reflected in the way we run our schools and operate our social safety net. And that’s a big part of why so many low-income kids don’t do well in school. We now know better than ever what kind of help they need to succeed in school. But very few schools are equipped to deliver that help.

Q. Many readers were first exposed to your reporting on character through your article in the New York Times Magazine in September 2011, which was titled "What If the Secret to Success Is Failure?" How does failure help us succeed?

A. That’s an idea that I think was best expressed by Dominic Randolph, the head of the Riverdale Country School, an exclusive private school in the Bronx where they’re now doing some interesting experiments with teaching character. Here’s how he put it: "The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure. And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything."

That idea resonated with a lot of readers. I don’t think it’s quite true that failure itself helps us succeed. In fact, repeated failures can be quite devastating to a child’s development. What I think is important on the road to success is learning to deal with failure, to manage adversity. That’s a skill that parents can certainly help their children develop--but so can teachers and coaches and mentors and neighbors and lots of other people.

Q. How did writing this book affect you as a parent?

A. My wife and I became parents for the first time just as I started reporting this book, and our son Ellington is now three. Those are crucial years in a child’s development, and I spent a lot of them reading papers on the infant brain and studies on attachment and trauma and stress hormones, trying not to get too overwhelmed.

In the end, though, this research had a surprising effect: it made me more relaxed as a parent. When Ellington was born, I was very much caught up in the idea of childhood as a race--the faster a child develops skills, the better he does on tests, the better he’ll do in life. Having done this reporting, I’m less concerned about my son’s reading and counting ability. Don’t get me wrong, I still want him to know that stuff. But I think he’ll get there in time. What I’m more concerned about is his character--or whatever the right synonym is for character when you’re talking about a three-year-old. I want him to be able to get over disappointments, to calm himself down, to keep working at a puzzle even when it’s frustrating, to be good at sharing, to feel loved and confident and full of a sense of belonging. Most important, I want him to be able to deal with failure.

That’s a difficult thing for parents to give their children, since we have deep in our DNA the urge to shield our kids from every kind of trouble. But what we’re finding out now is that in trying to protect our children, we may actually be harming them. By not giving them the chance to learn to manage adversity, to cope with failure, we produce kids who have real problems when they grow up. Overcoming adversity is what produces character. And character, even more than IQ, is what leads to real and lasting success.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:51 -0400)

"Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in this book the author argues that the qualities that matter most have more to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. The book introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories, and the stories of the children they are trying to help, the author traces the links between childhood stress and life success. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do, and do not, prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to help children growing up in poverty. Early adversity, scientists have come to understand, can not only affect the conditions of children's lives, it can alter the physical development of their brains as well. But now educators and doctors around the country are using that knowledge to develop innovative interventions that allow children to overcome the constraints of poverty. And with the help of these new strategies, as the author's reporting makes clear, children who grow up in the most painful circumstances can go on to achieve amazing things. This book has the potential to change how we raise our children, how we run our schools, how we construct our social safety net and also to change our understanding of childhood itself"--Dust jacket.… (more)

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