Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Favorite Comments of '12: cranberry and AmyP

On This American Life on Tough

cranberry said...

social skills, impulse control, resilience, optimism, and grit

Is there any proof that these are more malleable than cognitive skills? I don't think they are. I think temperament is pretty hard wired from the start. When I look at my kids, their relative levels of energy and optimism seem stable from infancy on.

We don't set out to teach non-cognitive skills in school, but that doesn't mean they can be taught.

How would you teach grit? Isn't it possible the things one thinks teach grit are really a sorting mechanism?
AmyP said...

Is the message, "We have trouble teaching A. Let's teach B!" without first figuring out if they have any better shot at B?
cranberry said...

I fear that this book will lead to a resurgence of emphasis on school-based attempts to teach "character." It will be the new-old thing; there are any number of packaged programs schools can purchase. It won't have anything to do with Paul Tough's book, but I'm certain there will be chapters on grit added to the materials.

I've seen different schools define, and teach, character in very different ways. In our children's public school, character was called citizenship. It wasn't defined, but there was a mysterious rating which would appear on the report card for "citizenship." Three categories: poor, good, excellent.

One year a friend's son received a poor rating. No one would tell her why he received that rating. It was a mystery, wrapped in an enigma. How could he improve his citizenship, when the school refused to tell the family the basis for his grade? His mother didn't even know who had given him the grade.

I would define the functioning definition of citizenship in the public school as "serve on student council, or have a parent on the school committee."

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