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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

39 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

A Brief Outline and Review

*A full executive summary of this book will be available at the website newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com, on or before Monday September 17. When it comes to a child's future success, the prevailing view recently has been that it depends, first and foremost, on ment...
*A full executive summary of this book will be available at the website newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com, on or before Monday September 17. When it comes to a child's future success, the prevailing view recently has been that it depends, first and foremost, on mental skills like verbal ability, mathematical ability, and the ability to detect patterns--all of the skills, in short, that lead to a hefty IQ. However, recent evidence from a host of academic fields--from psychology, to economics, to education, to neuroscience--has revealed that there is in fact another ingredient that contributes to success even more so than a high IQ and impressive cognitive skills. This factor includes the non-cognitive qualities of perseverance, conscientiousness, optimism, curiosity and self-discipline--all of which can be included under the general category of `character'. In his new book `How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character' writer Paul Tough explores the science behind these findings, and also tracks several alternative schools, education programs and outreach projects that have tried to implement the lessons--as well as the successes and challenges that they have experienced. Tough's writing style is very readable, honest and unpretentious, and he does an excellent job of supporting the scientific evidence that he introduces with interesting and powerful anecdotes (indeed, many of these are enough to bring you to tears). This is a strong argument in favor of paying closer to attention to cultivating character in young people, both in our personal lives and in our public policy. A full executive summary of this book will be available at the website newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com on or before Monday, September 17; a podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.

posted by popscipopulizer on September 7, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

Nothing new

None of this is new. Seems more like common sense. Treat children with respect and they will be good duh

posted by SophieD on October 9, 2012

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    A Brief Outline and Review

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at the website newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com, on or before Monday September 17. When it comes to a child's future success, the prevailing view recently has been that it depends, first and foremost, on mental skills like verbal ability, mathematical ability, and the ability to detect patterns--all of the skills, in short, that lead to a hefty IQ. However, recent evidence from a host of academic fields--from psychology, to economics, to education, to neuroscience--has revealed that there is in fact another ingredient that contributes to success even more so than a high IQ and impressive cognitive skills. This factor includes the non-cognitive qualities of perseverance, conscientiousness, optimism, curiosity and self-discipline--all of which can be included under the general category of `character'. In his new book `How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character' writer Paul Tough explores the science behind these findings, and also tracks several alternative schools, education programs and outreach projects that have tried to implement the lessons--as well as the successes and challenges that they have experienced. Tough's writing style is very readable, honest and unpretentious, and he does an excellent job of supporting the scientific evidence that he introduces with interesting and powerful anecdotes (indeed, many of these are enough to bring you to tears). This is a strong argument in favor of paying closer to attention to cultivating character in young people, both in our personal lives and in our public policy. A full executive summary of this book will be available at the website newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com on or before Monday, September 17; a podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.

    39 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Teachers, parents, politicians: read this book

    A highly readable account and convinciargument whys about why it is not enough to learn (and forget) information or problem solving skills, we need non-cognitive skills like persistence and resilience to succeed. Those skills can be taught...and must be taught, especially to children whose poverty and resulting dislocations put them most at risk. This book can help us change the education paradigm and promote a more helpful dialog about how to improve education in America.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    the first and most important part of education Character Development

    I found this book to be revealing and hopeful in its discussion of the need for children to develop character first and then skills second - the real education for children comes often when no one is watching or thinking about their education. They need to fail sometimes and learn how to develop "grit" self control, curiosity conscientiousness and confidence in themsleves. Habits developed in the first few years of life prepare a person for the rest of their life.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    This book will be of interest to parents, educators, business pe

    This book will be of interest to parents, educators, business people, and those involved in public policy because it looks at a question that lies at the root of many of the issues we argue about in the public sphere: What is it that makes children grow up to be successful people? What does it take to succeed in school, in college, and in life? And is it something that those of us who interact with children can influence?

    Paul Tough begins by arguing that the “cognitive hypothesis” is seriously misguided. This is the idea that what matters most is intelligence and information. Hence, we must try to get as much as we can into our kids brains, starting with playing Mozart in utero so that they can grow up to be “smart.” For example, this theory would imply that what matters in high school is the information you are taught. Therefore, if you can show by taking a test that you understand the information, you should be just as well off as someone who has sat through four years of classes. And yet, according to the study he cites by James Heckman, this is not the case. Though GED holders are more intelligent than high school dropouts, their life outcomes (college completion rates, income, divorce rate, etc.) were more similar to high school dropouts than high school graduates. The issue was that success requires the discipline and persistence to see a task through, even when it takes a long time and may seem boring or pointless at times.

    So, the point of this book is that character matters—in school, and broadly, in life. And the key character traits that matter are not what he terms “moral character:” fairness, generosity, inclusion, tolerance—the things that most school character programs emphasize; but rather “performance character:” those old fashioned concepts like hard work, conscientiousness, and persistence.

    Tough argues that these character traits can be taught and fostered in young people as they mature and that this would be a place where we should focus our efforts as parents, teachers, and public policy makers. He uses two key case studies to explore these concepts. One is a character building program that is a joint effort between an inner city KIPP charter school and a tony private school catering to wealthy parents. The other is a champion middle school chess program in a New York City public school.

    Ultimately, I didn’t think that he fully clarified exactly how this could be done on a broader scale, but he certainly tells a number of engaging stories of individual success and cites current research relating to the power of character. This book will extend the conversation on character, but leaves room for others to continue exploring these issues. It will leave you with a lot to ponder, especially if you are responsible for any children or young adults.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    Worth the re-set

    I'm not an educator, just a parent and grand parent. This book made a lot of sense to me, especially in explaining why some programs may not lead to lasting success. My only quibble is that the book wasnt as replete as it could be in describing successful methods of teaching character.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Highly Recommended For Parents And Educators

    Well documented and well researched. Unfortunately the people who should read this book don't even know it exists. This includes parents, teachers, and administrators.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Making me re-think the way I teach

    Excellent book that is making me re-think the important parts of teaching... Why is it important to read The Great Gatsby? Is it because it's a "classic"? Or is it because it teaches character? And the process of reading it teaches character? Good book filled with data.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    75% good

    The author writes well enough and is good at synthesizing study results. He is a little less good at putting all in the context of the title. He sometimes goes on too long about one study and/or story that acts as an exemplar of a theory of development toward "success". Worthwhile for a careful reader but rather less than prescriptive as the title suggests. For what it is, good. For what it pretends to be by titling, less good.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    I highly recommend purchasing this book.

    I highly recommend purchasing this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    Nothing new

    None of this is new. Seems more like common sense. Treat children with respect and they will be good duh

    1 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    How Children Succeed

    The book was OK; not thrilled. I am an educator so most of the info was familiar to me. My only complaint, was not enough said about children in elementary school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2014

    Thought I would learn a few things on how to make my kids better

    Thought I would learn a few things on how to make my kids better, but the book is all about how low income children don't excel due their status. I had to quit reading after the second to last chapter,, the chess chapter. Nothing in this book taught me anything to make my kids better. If I was a teacher in a low income situation, and I had no clue what I was doing I would recommend this book. However, as a parent trying to find a leg up, I would not recommend. This book will be in my next garage sale.

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  • Posted August 9, 2013

    RECOMMEND!!

    I thought this was excellent. I also bought a copy for my daughter's teacher as a gift and wish I could buy copies for every teacher at my daughters school.

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  • Posted July 13, 2013

    Good read that focuses on building character in schools. The de

    Good read that focuses on building character in schools. The deflating part for me is how feasible it is. There are some superb examples in this book of teachers who go way above and beyond in their profession. I just don't expect Joe Public to jump on in and volunteer with tutoring, after school services, and providing the mentorship that is so well described in this book.

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    Posted October 30, 2012

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    Posted February 7, 2014

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    Posted August 1, 2013

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    Posted November 8, 2012

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    Posted December 16, 2013

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    Posted January 28, 2013

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