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(2012) 11+, GCSEs, A levels – it sometimes seems like the story of our children’s lives is of one academic test after another. We’re convinced that a good performance in these exams will lead to success later on in life. But what if we’re wrong?
In fact, studies are increasingly showing that the qualities most likely to ensure a better degree, a better job and, ultimately, a more fulfilling life are perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. These are qualities known to economists as ‘non-cognitive’, to psychologists as ‘personality traits’ but to the rest of us as ‘character’.
How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators who are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories – and the stories of the children they are trying to help – acclaimed journalist Paul Tough traces the links between childhood stress, childhood cosseting, and life success. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents prepare – or fail to prepare – their children for adulthood. And he provides new insights into the best ways to help children growing up in poverty.
Early adversity, scientists have come to understand, not only physically affects children’s lives, it can also alter the neurological development of their brains. But now educators and doctors are using that knowledge to develop innovative interventions that allow children to overcome the constraints of poverty. And with the help of these new strategies, as Tough’s eye-opening reporting makes clear, even children who grow up in the most painful circumstances can go on to achieve amazing things.
This is a provocative and profoundly hopeful book that will change the way you think about raising and educating children.