Just a sketch. I like her pink, not green. She has a shopping addiction.
Just a sketch. I like her pink, not green. She has a shopping addiction.
The following is a continuation of my notes on Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed:
Chapter 2 HOW TO BUILD CHARACTER p. 49
Climb the Mountain to College – college was always the goal
But only 8 got a college degree
Culture shock – overwhelmed
While in KIPP, they felt and acted like a family
KIPP did not prepare them for high school emotionally or psychologically
Nobody checks your homework
Levin noticed that the kids who succeeded in high school and graduated from college were not necessarily the highest academically. They possessed other gifts: optimism, social agility, resilience. Levin called these CHARACTER STRENGTHS.
Martin Seligman – Learned Optimism – it’s a skill that can be learned, not innate
Pessimistic adults and children can train themselves to be optimistic
Will lead to more happiness, health and success
Seligman – depression is simply a severe low mood
Pessimists react to negative events by explaining them as permanent, personal and pervasive
(e.g. failed a test because you’re stupid, not because you failed to prepare)
Seligman yelled a lot, in his class
Levin did a book study with his staff. Why do some of our students feel not well-liked?
Levin grew up in a ritzy area of Riverdale – he was a standout student in math and science AND the captain of the basketball team; Director of his boarding school believes CHARACTER is missing in today’s qualifications in school (grit, working hard, perseverance).
Daniel Goleman – Emotional Intelligence
Randolph, Seligman and Levin had a meeting – the beginning of a fruitful alliance
Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Seligman and Peterson
A study in character; an effort to identify (concretely) what character is
Finalized 24 character strengths they believed to be universally respected
includes : bravery, citizenship, fairness, wisdom, integrity; love, humor, zest, appreciation of beauty; day-to-day interactions (social intelligence), kindness, gratitude
–These virtues were chosen because they could lead to the “good life” of fulfillment and meaning – had practical benefits
Seligman and Peterson – defined character as malleable – skills you can learn and practice and teach
Seligman, Levin and Randolph turned to Angela Duckworth (in her PhD dissertation, after working in schools, she said the problem was not just in schools, but students themselves) “Learning is hard…it can be daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging…character is at least as important as intellect.”
Duckworth started her research with self-discipline: 164 8th graders.
Self-discipline levels were more indicative to GPA than IQ.
Collaborated with Walter Mischel, famous for his marshmallow test with four-year olds (delayed gratification study).
Duckworth was intrigued by this study – how did those with more self-discipline strategize or help themselves to delay gratification?
“Children who did best at this test created their own distractions.” [Talked, sang, covered their eyes, one kid took a nap]
With simple prompts, children were able to think of the marshmallow abstractly, which led to higher success.
After a six week long course to help students develop self-discipline, students believed they improved, but they didn’t.
Marshmallows were easy…very clear goals.
High school and college graduation are not as clear or tangible.
Duckworth divided the mechanics of achievement into two: motivation and volition. BOTH are requisites.
What if students just aren’t motivated to achieve the goals their teachers or parents want them to achieve?
All the self-control tricks in the world will not help.
But motivation can still occur. It’s just highly complex. Rewards sometimes backfire.
Reward systems in schools (stickers, candy, prizes) have not been successful.
No one really knows how to motivate people well.What motivates us is hard to explain and hard to measure.
Different personality types respond differently to different motivations.
The coding-speed test (Segal) actually tested the test-takers’ inclination to force themselves to care about the world’s most boring test.
It was proof that they TRIED harder. The low-stakes, low-reward test predicted how well someone is going to do in life. Over decades, Segal gave the test to the same people and in their forties, he compared their salaries. Those who scored high on this test made considerably higher salaries.
What Segal’s study measured was conscientiousness.
Brent Roberts, U of IL (Urbana-Champaign) – reigning expert on conscientiousness
This was not studied much by researchers because it denoted “control” and nobody wants to talk about people being controlled. However, Industrial/Organizational Psychology grew into everyone’s consciousness – because companies want to hire the most productive, reliable and diligent workers they can find. They found that conscientiousness was critical.
Roberts found that people high in conscientiousness:
The Downside of Self-Control (p. 71)
People who are critics of the education setting are not swayed by conscientiousness findings.
“Strength of character” – includes conscientiousness, responsibility, insistently orderly, determined and persevering.
This post is designed mainly to hold myself accountable for research. I hope you can glean something from it at the same time. The following are my notes from Paul Tough’s book, “How Children Succeed”:
Data has shown (for a long time) that executive function correlates with family income
Early childhood – bodies and brains are most sensitive to effects of stress and trauma
Adolescence – can lead to most serious and long-lasting problems
The reason teenage years are most perilous: incentive processing system reaches full power while the cognitive control system isn’t matured until early 20s.
Thomas Gaston (“Mush”) kicked out and sent to Vivian E. Summers Alternative HS
He didn’t like it, but he did well
Until he carjacked someone
Potential sentence of 21 years was changed to 8 months of boot camp
Mush took his allostatic load and turned outward with violence (fighting, acting up in class). Some kids turn it inward (fear, anxiety, sadness, self-doubt).
Mush decided to “not care” after his 14 year old brother was shot and killed.
Social, economic and neurochemical factors are at play. A 10 year old vs. a 14 year old: we sympathize with the 10 year old.
There is an antidote to the ill effects of childhood stress!
It is biochemical.
Michael Meaney (McGill University)
Rats and mothering – some were nurturing, others not.
“LG” – Licking and Grooming (High vs. Low)
It is not necessarily the biological mother, but the REARING mother’s behavior that counts.
“Methylation” – the way certain chemicals are affixed to certain sequences on DNA
Showed that subtle parenting behaviors had predictable and long-lasting DNA-related effects
Lieberman (Child Trauma Research Program at UCSF)
Believes two important ideas missing from Sroufe and Egeland study:
Lieberman’s work focuses on strengthening bond between parent and child
Makayla – a study in focusing on mother/child attachment.
“There is a very direct correlation between family issues and what the kids present in school.” The focus on creating family attachments where there are none (in Roseland, for example), have many setbacks, but inspirations form and lead to success.
Father was a “player” and mother addicted to cocaine.
Sexually molested in sixth grade – didn’t tell mom, afraid mom would blame her
Got angrier and angrier and took it out at school – caused fights
Got a mentor in Lanita Reed, a hair salon owner
Developed a “big sister” bond with Keitha – teaching her about manicures, pedicures, hair…
“My whole outlook on life changed” Keitha said
Instead of fighting, asked Reed what to do about girls picking on her at school
They arranged a talk and it worked – everything was resolved.
Sexual molester started touching Keitha’s sister and Keitha felt guilt – did not want her sister to be removed from home.
Reed arranged to have the man removed from the home.
Mother was not supportive (lost $300 in rent)
Keitha: “I’m not going to let my past affect my future.”
Determined to graduate, she took night classes five days a week
June 2011, she graduated and attended Truman College, a community college
“Five years from now, I picture myself in my own apartment with my own money…and my little sisters, they can live with me.”
Dear Ms. K.,
I want to thank you for giving my daughter detention today. Per our previous email, you informed me that she has been late to your class every day for several days. This baffled me, as I drop her off an hour early and you are her first class of the day. After several warnings, you emailed me to let me know that should she be late again, she would get detention. I assured you she would not repeat that mistake.
But of course, I cannot guarantee the actions of anyone besides myself.
After confronting her, she hurriedly assured me she learned her lesson. She explained that she gets hungry and her friend meets her to bring her food. Her friend is not always so quick.
Oh, are we blaming our friend?
No, no. It’s not her fault. Mom, it won’t happen again!
I try to give my daughter freedom within strict guidelines. A “C” in a class at any time means her cell phone gets confiscated until the grade goes up. How she operates within her hours and activities is up to her.
When I remind her to make time for breakfast in the mornings and to pack a snack, I am met with heavy sighs. She is too busy styling her hair and applying makeup to worry about breakfast.
So it happened again today. She didn’t eat breakfast. She got hungry and met her friend. She was late to your class. And, as you promised, she will now have to serve detention – one hour after school tomorrow.
In the car, she was shaken. She’s never had this kind of consequence from a teacher before.
“It’s my fault. I got hungry. I didn’t pack any snacks or eat breakfast. It’s my responsibility. I will pack food the night before.”
I wanted to lecture her and reinforce the lesson. I wanted to voice my dismay and disappointment. Instead, I said, “I am very proud of you for taking responsibility for this and not blaming anyone.”
Thank you, Ms. K., for doing the right thing. You are helping my daughter develop character and responsibility.