“Drop the flashcards—grit, character, and curiosity matter even more than cognitive skills. A persuasive wake-up call.”—People
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 How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control.
How Children Succeed 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—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives. 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 improve the lives of children growing up in poverty. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.
“Illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”—New York Times
“I learned so much reading this book and I came away full of hope about how we can make life better for all kinds of kids.”—Slate
This American Life contributor Tough (Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America) tackles new theories on childhood education with a compelling style that weaves in personal details about his own child and childhood. Personal narratives of administrators, teachers, students, single mothers, and scientists lend support to the extensive scientific studies Tough uses to discuss a new, character-based learning approach. While traditional education relies heavily on memorization, new research conducted by James Heckman suggests that the conventional wisdom represented by those third-grade multiplication tables has failed some of our most vulnerable students. Tough takes the reader through experiments that studied childhood nurture, or attachment theory, to report cards that featured character strength assessments (measuring "grit," gratitude, optimism, curiosity, self-control, zest, and social intelligence). Focused on schools in Chicago and New York, Tough explores the effects of racial and socioeconomic divides through the narratives of survivors of an outdated system. The ultimate lesson of Tough's quest to explain a new wave of educational theories is that character strengths make up perhaps the single most compelling element of a child's education, and these traits are rooted deep within the chemistry of the brain. Tough believes that it is society's responsibility to provide those transformative experiences that will create its most productive future members.
Customer ReviewsSee All
As an engineering manager and father of three children, I found this book to be fascinating. The amount of research based facts and case studies in this book blew me away. I bought the book because it was a top seller and looked intriguing, but what I found was a gem.
I have been obsessed with the psychology of motivation for years now. As a manager, I've experienced people that are intrinsically motivated and perform consistently well and others that have to be intelligent, but either lack the discipline or grit to succeed, which makes them seem (as some of their coworkers would say) at times lazy and worthless.
What this book really does is begin to connect the dots for me in a new way. As I mentioned above, managing, coaching and mentoring 25-35 year olds can be rewarding and challenging. But for me, some of the challenging people I faced where enigmas. I couldn't figure them out. After knowing many of them personally, and the reading this book, I've begun to see why they turned out the way they did. This will help me immensely raise my three young kids. This also installs in me a passion to go out and make a difference in the lives of young people everywhere. I'm not a teacher, but I am a community volunteer and this inspired me more!
I highly recommend this book for anyone, no matter your background. Even for single people with no kids, it will be very informative and helpful to understand some of the adversity that is faced by children nowadays.
Why Children Fail
The title is misleading. It spends way more time on why students fail, but the worst part is the author's final conclusion: we need better government programs.
How Children Succeed