education | December 17, 2012

The Secretary of Education Really Likes How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

As 2012 draws to a close, The Wall Street Journal asked some prominent figures to share their favorite books from the past year. How Children Succeed by education speaker Paul Tough was listed as recommended reading by Mr. Arne Duncan—a recommendation that carries some extra weight given Duncan's role as the Secretary of Education. Duncan said that Tough's book was "extraordinarily thoughtful" and that it had a "profound impact on [him] as both a parent and a policy maker." He says what resonated most with him was the idea that children need to be given the opportunity to thrive—and fail—in different environments. Instead of shielding your child from failure and hardship, Tough argues that a moderate amount of adversity in a child's life can help them develop tremendously important character traits that will enable them to be more successful in life.

Duncan says he now applies that strategy at home with his wife and kids. They share their successes and failures around the dinner table each night and discuss how they can learn from those experiences and become more resilient in the future because of them. "Mr. Tough presents a thoughtful strategy to help those children most at risk," Duncan writes in the WSJ, "and it left me feeling hopeful about the huge difference we can make in the lives of those who have little opportunity." Tough's refreshing ideas about how to ensure that children grow up to reach their fullest potential have made waves in the education sector, and with parents at home. Thoroughly researched and well-written, How Children Succeed is presenting a new model for childhood development that is turning traditional notions of child-rearing and learning on their head. In highly requested speeches and media appearances, Tough expands on these ideas to share the importance of character—instead of just intelligence—as a major factor towards success in life.

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