Paul Tough is the author of, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, and an article he published for the Sunday New York Times one year ago, titled “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” In his work he raises important issues about teachers’ and school leaders’ roles in fostering success in academics, and, more importantly, for the long-term in life.
Paul Tough describes the cognitive hypothesis which indicates “That success today depends primarily on cognitive skills, the kind of intelligence that gets measured on I.Q. tests, including the abilities to recognize letters and words, to calculate, to detect patterns and that the best way to develop these skills is to practice them as much as possible, beginning as early as possible.” In his book, “How Children Succeed,” Tough sets out to replace this assumption with what he calls the character hypothesis which is the notion that noncognitive skills, like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence, are more crucial than sheer brainpower to achieving success. Paul Tough’s book outlines the following seven character traits that he says are key to success:
- Social intelligence
Tough’s larger thesis is that we need to pay attention to more than academics. Children need to develop persistence and resilience in the face of failure. To him, promoting grit and toughness is in addition to the academic skills and knowledge that most education policy obsesses about these days.