For those of you who are in the Tampa Bay area, you will most likely want to consider attending a free event that is occurring on Wednesday, April 24th at 6:30 PM as told by the Tampa Bay Times. The event, which is a free lecture series on the book “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough, will be hosted by the Education Foundation at Jefferson high school. Jefferson high school is within Hillsborough county in Tampa, Florida for those of you who do not know of its location.
The lecture series, being based on the book, will discuss something that is very important to us in this “No Child Left Behind” stage of formal education we are in: why do some children fail while others succeed? What determines success and what makes some children learn learned helplessness instead of the character of pursuing and being determined? Are these successes and failures permanent determinations of how the children will be as they grow into adulthood? Because frankly, if our children are our future, we do not want them to be failures by any definition.
Instead of looking at a child’s test scores and formal education evaluations to determine their success level, Tough suggests that the better thing to look at is a child’s character. I have seen the correlation before: my AP Psychology teacher often tells of a test where several children are told if they can refrain from eating one marshmallow, they will receive two. The children were in a longitudinal study, where, in adulthood, the children grew to be more successful than the children who could not remain patient. It is not that they grew to be successful – the children were always successful due to a character that they had instilled in themselves from a young age.
In diving into the psychology behind success and failure, Tough comes across the realization that a good character can alter the brain physically. The book aims to change the way we think about education and our children. Looking at it from a psychological perspective, we can change the way our kids think through the way we teach them, the way we raise them, and the way they grow up together in a social setting. If all of these things, among others, are successfully changed, our children will be successfully changed. Of course, not every situation is the same. And I don’t mean to make light of the process by which one can become successful – but it is, as according to Tough, a truth.
Thankfully, people are finding the oppositions in the education system to be worth changing. From the prospect of desiring change in the woes of standardized testing, to cultivating the creativity we seem to lack, to changing the way we raise our children at home, change is happening. We are understanding more about the brain, its processes, and how what we do affects our children – and it is all for the better. The more we develop our understanding, the more we can change. The more our children will succeed and prosper. After all, isn’t that the goal?