NPR: 'Children Succeed' With Character, Not Test Scores

Paul Tough, author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America was recently interviewed by NPR to discuss his new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.

According to Tough, research suggests that developing non-cognitive skills like confidence, perseverance, and curiosity are just as important as cognitive skills like IQ and vocabulary. However, non-cognitive skills aren’t being taught in our current education system.

Tough believes that giving students the ability to manage stress is a very powerful tool. The research to back this up came from a very interesting place–stressed out baby rats. Rats who were licked and groomed by their mother as pups were braver and more successful as adults. Tough suggests that this mother-pup bond gave the pups “psychological strength”.

How does this apply to human children? Tough states that when kids are really young, parents can’t be too loving. Around age three, kids need more independence and to be challenged. As Tough notes with his own child, kids need to be able to pick themselves up, and they want to prove that they can.

Listen to the full interview here.

Paul Tough will be speaking at Town Hall in Seattle as a part of LEV’s Voices from the Education Revolution Speaker Series.

Can’t get enough Paul Tough? Read another interview with him here.

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