Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tough lessons on what children actually need

An age-old song and dance ping-pongs back and forth between parents and schools.

"Why aren't the schools doing enough?"

"Why aren't the parents doing enough?"

I bring this up because I find that parenting and teaching are one of the same, and I had to destroy notions of what I thought each was in order to be the best parent and teacher I can be.

Paul Tough's 2012 book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character belongs in the parenting category of books I recommend, not the education one. The reason why is that parents need to know that academic success hardly means anything in schools or the real world nowadays.

Now, a reasonable person might say, "Doesn't academic success matter with getting into college?"

My answer: "Not really."

The reason why is it's a given that a student applying to a good or prestigious university will have academic success. When it comes to elite universities, it's practically impossible to distinguish one's self by academic success alone. It's a given in today's climate.

So back in 2012, Tough put together a book with an excellent thesis, and he wrote a readerly take on the key attributes that have data behind them that make students successful. The main two qualities are grit, which Angela Duckworth also covered, and curiosity.
Or course, a looming question is what is "success." Some people subscribe money to success or maybe status. What they're really doing is playing off the idea of "making my parents proud."

But is that really success, and does that really go anywhere?

I feel that Tough's take on "success" jibes with mine, mostly because I see adapting to setbacks and seeing the world through constantly curious eyes as crucial for a meaningful existence.

I'm hopeful that parenting and schools are evolving beyond the Industrial Revolution and more focused on developing well-rounded human beings instead of mere workers. The good news is that parents of means typically have that focus, but a lot of parents, rich or poor, never really embraced adulthood perhaps because they never developed the crucial traits in Tough's book.

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