> The Things You Can Read: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough: Review Part 1

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough: Review Part 1

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

“What matters most in a child's development, they say, is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence.” Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

As I posted earlier, I chose to read How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character as one of my first two reads of 2014.  Why?  Because this book fits into my quest to not only be a better parent, but to also be a better teacher, which is a direct result of  having joined a growing movement called One Little Word℠.  This movement has its participants choose a word that will guide them as they journey throughout the year.  My word is BECOMING and in my year of focus on BECOMING this nonfiction book is a  perfect fit (Click Here for more information).  As I stated earlier this particular book has been on my radar for awhile, but when one of my favorite sites to visit out there on the Internet, Brain Pickings, had it listed on their best of list for 2013, it moved up to the top of the pile.  I am now about 40 percent done, however I realized I was highlighting so much information that I needed to break up my review into parts, so here is part one. 


Let me setup my remarks with a personal anecdote, when my twins were born back in  2010, one of our nurses noticed how much my husband was holding our son.  Each and every time our new baby cried his father picked him up, and this medical professional sternly reprimanded us saying that our son would be "spoiled rotten" if we continued to respond to his every cry.  Well, we both totally disagreed with what she said, but we had nothing to base our intuitive feelings with regard to her advice, and her comment always stuck with us.  My husband and I, on occasion, remember that moment when we reminisce about the twins birth  This shared parenting moment came flooding back, in what some might call an "aha moment", while reading this book.  Specific research performed by Ainsworth and Bowlby was sited that proved what my husband and I had known instinctually:

Babies whose parents responded readily and fully to their cries in the first month of life were at one year, more independent and intrepid than babies whose parents had ignored their cries. In preschool, the pattern continued-the children whose parents had responded most sensitively to their emotional needs as infants were the most self-reliant. Warm, sensitive parental care, Ainsworth and Bowlby contended, created a 'secure base' from which a child could explore the word."-How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
 After reading this I felt vindicated as a parent for not letting someone disrupt the positive bond my husband and I were establishing with our son during his first days of life, and the best part was that we had research on our side, and didn't even know it.  This is only one such gem that can be found inside the covers of this book.  As I said there is so much information to be discussed and shared I have broken it down into smaller chucks in the hopes that folks will actually read and digest some of these findings.  Check back as I continue to update you on my reflections with regard to this amazing book. 


How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character also led me to seek out other books which were mentioned in the text.  I have, of course, added several of them to my list of To Be Read boks on Goodreads for further reading during my year of BECOMING.  An example of the books mentioned include Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, a leading scholar on the subject of positive psychology.  Check it out if my comments have sparked an interest in this topic.

Part Two of my review/reflection will cover the idea of Grit and its importance to a child's success.  If you are interested in testing your own Grit Level take Angela Duckworth's GRIT Survey:  Click Here to get a feel for what Grit is all about.  Also check out my post of Angela's TED talk on GRIT at my sister site The Writing WhisperingsClick Here.

As I said, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character was featured in an article entitled "The 13 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2013" on Brain Pickings.  How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character is helping me to demystify what makes one child successful and another not. It has certainly given me clarity on the issue of how or why certain children succeed.  I have included an excerpt from the article from Brain Pickings. Read on...and if this is something that makes you go Humm...then click on over to read Brain Pickings full article or better yet pick up the book from your local bookstore or library.

"In How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (public library) – a necessary addition to these fantastic reads on education – Paul Tough, whose writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Esquire, The New York Times, sets out to investigate the essential building blocks of character through the findings and practical insight of exceptional educators and bleeding-edge researchers. One of his core arguments is based on the work of pioneering psychologist and 2013 MacArthur "genius" grantee Angela Duckworth, who studied under positive psychology godfather Martin Seligman at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and has done more than anyone for advancing our understanding of how self-control and grit – the relentless work ethic of sustaining your commitments toward a long-term goal – impact success."-BRAIN PICKINGS

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of CharacterWhy 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 for a very different understanding of what makes a successful child. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, economics, and psychology, Tough shows that the qualities that matter most have less to do with IQ and more to do with character: skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism.

"How Children Succeed" introduces us to a new generation of scientists and educators who are radically changing our understanding of how children develop character, how they learn to think, and how they overcome adversity. It tells the personal stories of young people struggling to say on the right side of the line between success and failure. And it argues for a new way of thinking about how best to steer an individual child – or a whole generation of children – toward a successful future.

This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers; it will also change our understanding of childhood itself. -Goodreads

Six Must See TED Talks from 2013:  Click Here

How to Foster Grit in the Classroom:  Click Here

‘How Children Succeed’ — Q&A with Paul Tough:  Click Here

True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It:  Click Here

One Little Word℠ Introductory Video:  Click Here

One Little Word℠ Word List: Click Here 

Grit Angela Duckworth's TED Talk:  Click Here

Happy Reading 
The Things You Can Read!
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!

1 comment:

  1. This is my kind of book. I practiced attachment parenting with my kids and so when my pediatrician told me to breastfeed only at certain times, I had the same reaction you did when the nurse reprimanded your hubby. I love books like this that support loving and bonding relationships between parent and child.


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