Why is it that some children grow up to be successful and live productive lives, while others struggle and make a mess of theirs? Paul Tough looks at this question in his excellent book How Children Succeed – and the answer may not be what you are expecting.
Over the decades there has been a lot of research done in the area of education. Paul Tough uses these findings, plus his own observations and a number of case studies to paint a compelling picture of what really makes the difference as to whether children will be successful or not.
Ultimately it isn’t whether a child has a high IQ, or parents who aren’t poor, or attends great schools that will make the difference – it is character. Those other things help, but if they are missing they can be compensated for. But a child lacking qualities like grit and self-control and optimism and curiosity will be at a severe disadvantage.
Because of this, much of the US government’s approach to fixing the education crisis, is a complete waste of time and money. And, helicopter parents who swoop in to remove any obstacles in their children’s paths are actually doing their children a disservice. But parents and teachers and mentors who come along side children and help them navigate the stresses and problems of life, can have a hugely positive impact.
Paul Tough masterfully looks at many elements that affect the success or failure of a child – and his conclusions will give you much to think about. For a taste of what you will find in the book, listen to this interview with him.
This is a book every parent, teacher – and actually, every adult should read. As a parent you will learn how vital your role is, and how your home environment can play a huge part in your children’s success.
As a teacher, you will be encouraged to work on character and not just academics, as you teach.
And for everyone else, you will be challenged to help those who don’t have natural support systems. It is very possible for students in all circumstances to rise above their problems – but they won’t be able to do it without outside help.
This is one of the best books I have read. A big thank you to my friend, Beverley, who bought it for me! My takeaway – I am more motivated than ever to work with the after-school program I have been involved in over the past few years. They are doing so many things advocated by Paul Tough and I am more convinced than ever that the inner city kids they work with can be successful.