Customer Review

107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and enjoyable reading. Mainly philosophical, very little how to., August 13, 2012
This review is from: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (Hardcover)
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Why do some children succeed in life and others do not? Why does a bright child end up a failure as an adult while a more average student ends up a success? Paul Tough says that the answer is character. Traits like self-control, diligence, and perseverance are better predictors of success in life than IQ. In fact, those who are especially bright, may be set up for failure as they become used to everything in school coming easily to them, and are ill-prepared for the difficulties of the "real world."

I found the book absolutely fascinating, both informative and enjoyable to read. The book is full of research and example to make the author's point. It does a wonderful job demonstrating that character does matter and is as essential for a child to learn as any academic subject. This is not, however, a how-to book that goes into great detail about how to instill these traits in your children/students.

One of the groups that the author focuses on significantly is those of low socioeconomic status. He makes the case, convincingly, that the main problem that they have to overcome is the stressful circumstances of their childhood, such as violence, broken homes, etc. Most find themselves significantly impaired by the constant strain of their early environment. Yet those with close supportive relationships with their caregiver(s) and the opportunity to develop key character traits are able to rise above their circumstances.

The author also focuses on a low-income school in NYC that produces champion chess teams. Children who manage to apply themselves and become national masters are obviously bright. And yet it doesn't translate into test scores, which show them to be woefully behind their peers. I was saddened to see the national master in middle school who couldn't locate entire continents on a map or name a single European country. I felt that child was cheated by the hours a day spent on chess that could have been spent helping him to gain a basic education so that he can function in the world post-graduation. Still, the fact that someone so disadvantaged could achieve so much in one arena, shows what perseverance and diligence can reap.

Overall, this is an interesting book that makes a very good case that it is absolutely critical for children to develop character traits like curiosity, perseverance, etc. It's fascinating reading, even if I already agreed with that conclusion. Just don't expect a how-to book with 5 key steps to implement in your classroom or home.
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