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

March 11, 2013


After perusing the list of top-selling education books from last year, I was immediately drawn to Paul Tough’s How Children SucceedI mean, don’t we all just want to know the answer to that one little question? How DO children succeed?

This is the first non-fiction page turner I’ve read in quite a while. It provides multiple research perspectives about what prevents certain children from achieving the most positive outcomes in their adult lives. What characteristics do some children have that others do not? As a teacher, I found it to provide some refreshing and encouraging anecdotes about children who have defied the odds and the adults who helped them accomplish this. The stories and research summaries could provide a background for interesting discussions, particularly with a school staff or as part of an educational book study.

The middle school teacher in me particularly enjoys this quote:

The reason the teenage years have always been such a perilous time […] is that the incentive processing system reaches its full power in early adolescence while the cognitive control system doesn’t finish maturing until you’re in your twenties. So for a few wild years, we are all madly processing incentives without a corresponding control system to keep our behavior in check.

So that’s why middle schools are such crazy places!

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