Making Character Strengths Count
A letter to The New York Times Book Review about my review in that publication of “How Children Succeed,” a new book by Paul Tough, makes an interesting point:
To the Editor:
If Paul Tough, in “How Children Succeed” (Aug. 26), is correct that noncognitive skills are more important than cognitive abilities in predicting outcomes for success, then the standardized tests at the heart of the reform movement measure nothing at all of what he advocates. His book, therefore, is less a guide “to the ironies and perversities of income inequality” than to the harm done by self-styled experts.
The writer’s Reality Check blog is published in Education Week.
Walt’s point is that if we’re going to acknowledge that non-cognitive skills (like patience, persistence, conscientiousness, and “grit”) are important, we also should find ways to assess and promote those skills so that they truly “count.”
(Ellen Galinksy, author of the important book “Minds in The Making,” has pointed out to me that the skills that we’re talking about ARE cognitive, but I’ll address that point in another post.)