The No Child Left Behind Law was enacted in 2001. Its goal was for all children to become proficient in reading, and math by the year 2014. Educators have worked tirelessly towards achieving that goal and, for teachers, teaching test taking strategies has become the norm.
A New York Times article, written by columnist Joe Nocera, refers to a book written by Paul Tough, published in 2012, entitled How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character In summary Tough says that “simply teaching reading and math – the so called cognitive skills – isn’t nearly enough, especially for children who have grown up enduring the stresses of poverty. In fact, it might not even be the most important thing.”
Tough reviewed the research of the last several years and found that researchers and teachers had shifted their focus and started to consider qualities that are predictive of children’s long term achievement and ultimately their well-being. Tough concluded that “noncognitive skills’ which he calls “character”, are the most important qualities to develop to succeed in life and as well as in school. Tough also says that character development can not only be learned when children are young “but as teenagers also, even with teenagers that have had extraordinarily difficult lives.”
As a long time educator I wholeheartedly agree. If our children can learn to believe in themselves and persevere they will succeed. They all have the potential of “True Grit,” but it is our responsibility to help them to help themselves.
You can read Joe Nocera’s complete article “Reading, Math and Grit” by clicking on this link: Reading, Math and Grit.