Systemic Change: The Secret to Success

Thanks to the Google.  I can connect with my friends on Gchat.  One of my friends recently shared an article in her status, that I just had to click.  It was Paul Tough’s recent piece published in the New York Times, What if the Secret to Success is Failure?  In this piece, Tough highlights two different schools on two different sides of the track that come to one conclusion:  character building is just as important as teaching academics.

Below is a highlight from the piece:

As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. Those skills weren’t enough on their own to earn students a B.A., Levin knew. But for young people without the benefit of a lot of family resources, without the kind of safety net that their wealthier peers enjoyed, they seemed an indispensable part of making it to graduation day.

What appealed to Levin about the list of character strengths that Seligman and Peterson compiled was that it was presented not as a finger-wagging guilt trip about good values and appropriate behavior but as a recipe for a successful and happy life. He was wary of the idea that KIPP’s aim was to instill in its students “middle-class values,” as though well-off kids had some depth of character that low-income students lacked. “The thing that I think is great about the character-strength approach,” he told me, “is it is fundamentally devoid of value judgment.”

It is this type of thinking that will fundamentally change the way we educate students in America.   It forces educators to think beyond the test and build students into critical thinkers and real world problem-solvers.  Continue to read more of this enlightening and forward thinking article over at the New York Times website.