BOOK REVIEW: How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

I hope that those in control of our education system don’t take too long to get this book. Based on lots of research, Tough sets out to prove something that many have known all along and that others choose simply to ignore. Namely, that a child’s work ethic is what will cause him to succeed; not his intelligence quotient but rather his character quotient.

Many think of character as honesty, citizenship, fairness, etc, but in this book it is about perseverance, grit, or stick-to-it-iveness. How much will a child endure before he gives up? Kids with many advantages are oft to give up because they do not know how to withstand being uncomfortable or failing at something. Tough’s analysis of the lines that separate the successful from those who quit is quite insightful. As I said before he uses research but also profiles some students and even looks into a chess program and its effect on student outcomes in life.
This is a book for schools and parents alike. What can parents do to ensure that their children learn a work ethic that will outrun all his other competitors? Parents are the starting point. How stressful is the home? How supportive and comforting is the parent? Also, what can schools do to encourage the true predictor of a child’s success? You will take away all this and more from this well-written book.