Brief Comment on Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed

In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough walks us through the chemical proccesses of children who have been through traumatic experiences and how those emotions, if not catered to, can affect not only a students education but lifelong experiences. Whle he also talks about how character, especially grit, can help children become more effective students, and in turn, better citizens, I love his emphasis on the role of the parent. 

As far as students underperforming on exams goes, a lot of people blame teachers and are either ingnorant or too politcal-minded to rest some of that blame on parents. His last chapter, titled “A Better Path”, note how parents and role models play a significant position in a child/young adult’s mental development. These relationships are almost always personal and are better developed through one-on-one interactions. Some public school teachers are trying to aid 30 kids to a class, 45 minutes at a time, making it difficult to cultivate a personal, on-going relationship. Parents, however, are able to interact with their kids more frequently and for a much longer period of time than any single teacher ever could. 

This has always been my train of thought, but I love how Tough essentially says that parents do not need to be academically inclined to make their child a better student. Providing them with the understanding of hardwork, optimism, curiosity and a sense of protection, parents can be one of their child’s most powerful resources, not neccessarily a teacher (…though of course they play a big part, as well).

Finally Reading Paul Tough’s “How Children Succeed”

I’m only on the first chapter, but so far I love the anecdotes, which bring the troubles some children go through to life. I’m also fascinated by economist James Heckman’s interdisciplinary work on the Perry Preschool Program and Tough’s use of the research in the book’s introduction. The reader understands what Tough is going to talk about but he provides this strong piece of research that is a catalyst in his quest to understand how children succeed. More thoughts on the book as a read!