Rethinking What Leads to Success In Education

As policy makers struggle to implement effective education policy for all students, those closest to the education system are starting to think about the other triggers that are causing students to fail.  Researchers are now wondering if a student’s level of “Non- Cognitive skills” such as optimism, determination, and perseverance, can play a significant role in educational outcome.

When we think about how children succeed in school, we often think about their grades. Paul Tough, the author of the new book, How Children Succeed, argues that measuring educational success can go beyond academic intelligence. Tough believes that a child’s social intelligence and character have a direct impact on educational success as well. “When we think about the word ‘character,’ we often think of something that is not all changeable— it’s just like what you’re born with,” Tough explains, “But these strengths are things that are absolutely changeable. Individuals can change themselves. Teachers and parents can have a huge impact on how they’re developed. “

In his book, Tough contends that the big problems within American education have not been solved because we have not been looking in the right places for possible solutions. Teaching poverty-stricken children important social skills, such as resilience and drive, will help develop habits of mind to persevere in tough situations. Instead of dropping out of school when a difficult situation arises, it is Tough’s hope that children who have been taught strong character values will persevere.

Click here to read more about recent research on this topic and Paul Tough’s thoughts.