Paul Tough

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Paul Tough

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Born
Toronto, Canada
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September 2008

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Paul Tough is the author, most recently, of Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why. His previous book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, was been translated into 27 languages and spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback best-seller lists. His first book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, was published in 2008. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, where he has written cover stories on character education, the achievement gap, and the Obama administration's poverty policies. He has worked as an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public-radio prog ...more

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Paul Tough Hi Melissa,

Well, I'm not a teacher, and I'm sure there are plenty of teachers out there with a more sophisticated understanding than mine of how to…more
Hi Melissa,

Well, I'm not a teacher, and I'm sure there are plenty of teachers out there with a more sophisticated understanding than mine of how to help struggling readers.

But as a layperson and a parent, I'll weigh in to this degree: I think it's worth considering whether those students you describe really have no interest in reading. My experience is that kids are naturally drawn to books and the stories, images, and information within them. And when they get the opportunity to discover books in a supportive, encouraging, non-stressful environment, they grow as readers.

The challenge, for teachers, is to create that environment in the classroom, while recognizing that their students are reading at different levels, are interested in different subjects, and have different levels of support at home.

I'm really drawn to the work of a fifth-grade teacher named James Flanagan, who teaches at an unusual school called Girard College in Philadelphia. He's developed a curriculum that allows his students (all from low-income families) to get two or more hours of independent reading every day. His theory is that his students need that time and space to discover what and how they love to read, and that the extra time spent reading will develop their skills as well as their knowledge.

Here's an article on his work:

https://www.girardcollege.edu/uploade...

I hope that helps.

Paul(less)
Paul Tough One of the ideas that I explore in the book is that “teaching” is probably not the best way to think about character strengths like grit or resilience…moreOne of the ideas that I explore in the book is that “teaching” is probably not the best way to think about character strengths like grit or resilience or perseverance. The initial reaction of many educators, when they first encounter the research about non-cognitive abilities that I wrote about in How Children Succeed, is to try to figure out how to teach their students these skills. On one level, this instinct makes sense – if we know the best way to teach the Pythagorean theorem, can’t we also figure out the best way to teach grit? But, unfortunately, there’s no evidence that any particular curriculum or textbook or app can effectively teach kids grit or self-control or curiosity.

In Helping Children Succeed, I write about a new generation of researchers – neuroscientists, psychologists, and economists – who are questioning the idea that character strengths should be thought of as skills at all. Instead, these researchers say, qualities like perseverance or self-control are more like psychological states or mindsets – which means they’re mostly the product of a child’s environment. So if we want to help kids to persevere, these researchers say, we need first to figure out how to improve their environment, both at home and at school.(less)
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Dear Readers,


As you can see, I’m no longer updating this blog with much regularity. I’m leaving it in place here on my website because it’s a useful (to me, at least) archive of posts from 2008 to 2012, mostly relating to my first book, Whatever It Takes, and the Harlem Children’s Zone.


I’m still regularly posting new information about my books, articles, and speaking engagements, but I’m posti...

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Published on March 07, 2013 08:46 • 231 views

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“What matters most in a child's development, they say, is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence.”
Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

“The part of the brain most affected by early stress is the prefrontal cortex, which is critical in self-regulatory activities of all kinds, both emotional and cognitive. As a result, children who grow up in stressful environments generally find it harder to concentrate, harder to sit still, harder to rebound from disappointments, and harder to follow directions. And that has a direct effect on their performance in school.”
Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

“the key channel through which early adversity causes damage to developing bodies and brains is stress.”
Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

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“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”
Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely

“After a little while I felt a little better, but very little. I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”
Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely

“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don't want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.”
Miller Williams

“During the act of making something, I experience a kind of blissful absence of the self and a loss of time. When I am done, I return to both feeling as restored as if I had been on a trip. I almost never get this feeling any other way. I once spent sixteen hours making 150 wedding invitations by hand and was not for one instance of that time tempted to eat or look at my watch. By contrast, if seated at the computer, I check my email conservatively 30,000 times a day. When I am writing, I must have a snack, call a friend, or abuse myself every ten minutes. I used to think that this was nothing more than the difference between those things we do for love and those we do for money. But that can't be the whole story. I didn't always write for a living, and even back when it was my most fondly held dream to one day be able to do so, writing was always difficult. Writing is like pulling teeth.
From my dick.”
David Rakoff, Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems




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