Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Book Week; People with Grit Usually Win the Race

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Book Week; People with Grit Usually Win the Race

Article excerpt

Intelligence may not be the biggest key to success in life.

Instead, look at persistence, getting up when you're down, finishing what you start, seeing failure as temporary.

It's the topic of the book by Paul Tough "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character."

So we asked members of our Email Group, most with education backgrounds, to comment on this principle. How does it work in real life?


Tough makes a compelling case for the enormous influence of what some researchers call "character." They include conscientiousness, perseverance, social intelligence and optimism. Tough also argues that these traits or skills, depending on the label used, instead of being innate can be learned and taught.

Advantaged children often acquire these abilities from their parents. Teachers sometimes have large classes of students who virtually refuse to do homework or prepare study aids for tests even when repeatedly offered help.

To make these students understand how important personal responsibility and perseverance, for example, are to their long-term success in life is a daunting task indeed.

Paul Eggen, Jacksonville


Good book by Paul Tough - very well written - but not new research. Maria Montessori had talked about this 100 years ago. But in the 21st century, those old-fashioned values of grit and resilience get re-calibrated in the context of the social media and Twitter generation. It is not a bad thing, but children need coping skills since everything around them is about instant gratification.

Developing resilience is a journey. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has developed the Seven Cs of Resilience. It would be the perfect place to start for any community.

Padma Rajan, Jacksonville


The people that I know whom I consider successful had an internal sense of security coming from their own character and often in spite of their parents, siblings or surroundings.

They also had learned to read early, before the end of the third grade, and they had a sense of curiosity.

Richard Bowers, Ponte Vedra Beach


As teachers, we would say that it is our job to establish boundaries for children, and it is their job to test them.

In that regard, I find that children tend to do their best and give themselves the best opportunities for success when several pieces are in place.

First, children need structure in their lives. They appreciate the value and security of some kind of schedule to guide them from day to day.

Next, children seem to respond well to the expectations of others. It helps them set goals to measure their own accomplishments, and it motivates them to continue striving for success. …

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