How Children Succeed by Paul Tough has been featured on TV, in the Huffington Post, and on NPR. After seeing it reviewed on one of my favorite blogs, I decided that I needed to read it. All in all, it was a quick read that featured ideas from many of my favorite authors, including the Heath brothers, Malcolm Gladwell, and Daniel Pink.
Of course, any good book inspires questions, not answers. Here are mine.
- Should we really minimize the role of excellent curriculum and instruction in education? While I find many of Tough's arguments compelling, I think that ignoring the curricular incoherence that exists in many large districts to be a mistake. Yes, kids need character. But they also need well designed learning activities that engage them and make them love school.
- How do we find the "right amount" of failure? At one point in the book, Tough refers to Riverdale, an exclusive private school in New York. He notes that these students had experienced very little failure in their lives, leading to low "grit." I agree with this premise, but I'm struggling to find an appropriate balance. How do we structure school so that kids experience failure and learn to cope with it? My initial thoughts relate to ungraded transfer tasks..... More on that later.
- How can we structure schools as places to promote all aspects of a child's development? There has been a lot of talk lately about anytime, anywhere learning. While I think this is true, I also think that school as a community center is necessary. Kids need a safe place, and families need comfortable access to resources. How can we redesign school so that is holistically meets students' needs yet learning happens in and out of the classroom?