Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shared reading of 'How CHILDREN SUCCEED'


e.p.i.c. School teachers were invited to hear guest speaker Paul Tough chat about his latest book (thank you The Mabin School). Teachers returned, eager to begin reading Tough's book: How Children Succeed. It was decided, due to busy schedules, that we would 'share' reading the book and summarize each chapter. Like a book club, we get to discuss our understanding and varied perspectives of the material presented, and if at the end of the book we remain interested in finding out more, summer-time always presents the ideal 'reading catch-up' time for teachers.

I read the introduction. 
Due to the need for efficiency, I often skip the intro. in ‘education’ related books but being first to summarize, I thought I should begin at the beginning. I was hooked!
I have been reading books about what is needed for children to succeed for a long time. A quick search of the office bookshelf would have you find ‘Habits of Mind’ and numerous others. The question is similar for all, “Who succeeds and who fails?”

The author, a new parent at the time, relates a story of visiting a school where he noticed the j.k. teacher didn’t interfere or direct, or do any sort of behaviour management – how could this be, he wondered? The school had adopted Tools of the Mind where children were taught directly skills to support the rubric of self regulation: controlling impulses; staying focused on the task at hand; avoiding distractions; managing emotions; organizing thoughts. The founders believe these skills will lead to more positive outcomes for students.

The author, Paul Tough, claims that folks from very diverse educational backgrounds have begun to produce evidence that the ‘skills’ most important to develop are qualities that include persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence. Of course, we can’t get better at curiosity by practicing over and over again, like we do with printing. The question is, how do we develop these traits?

Tough relates a story of a professor of Economics (really) who, since winning the Nobel prize, is studying what traits lead to success? How do they develop in childhood? What kind of interventions might help children do better? 

I look forward to exploring and discussing chapter one!


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