Teaching for Success

By Aldridge, Jerry | Childhood Education, Annual 2008 | Go to article overview

Teaching for Success


Aldridge, Jerry, Childhood Education


Over 30 years ago, J. T. Molloy (1975) published a book titled Dress for Success. Since its publication, the fashion industry has changed its definition of what "dressing for success" means. Similarly, educators have modified what constitutes teaching for success. The following article reviews reflect recent conceptions of what it means to teach for success.--JA

APPLYING PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES TO EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE. Sternberg, R., American Educational Research Journal, 2008, 45(I), 150-165. Sternberg addresses how psychological theories, particularly theories of intelligence, have been applied to educational practice. However, a major portion of this article is devoted to "teaching for successful intelligence" (p. 153). Sternberg's own theory of successful intelligence has been researched extensively in classrooms "around the United States and in some other countries" (p. 153).

Activation of and experiences with creative, analytical and practical forms of intelligence are necessary for success. "We need creative abilities to generate ideas, analytical abilities to determine whether they are good ideas, and practical abilities to implement the ideas and to convince others of the value of our ideas. Most people who are successfully intelligent are not equal in these three abilities, but they find ways of making the three abilities work harmoniously together" (p. 153).

This article traces the research on Sternberg's model of creative, analytical, and practical intelligence. According to Sternberg, teachers teach for success when they utilize analytical, creative, and practical instructional conditions. Researchers have found that emphasizing all three "enables children to capitalize on their strengths and to correct or compensate for their weaknesses, and it allows children to encode material in a variety of interesting ways" (p. 155).

Most of Sternberg's research on creative, analytical, and practical abilities has been conducted using participants who were 9 years and older. Most recently, his model has been used to expand the entrance exam at Tufts University (where he currently teaches). The results are promising. The gap between economic and ethnic groups is significantly less when Sternberg's measures of intelligence are used for assessment, as compared with traditional measures of intelligence. Still, more research using his model should be conducted in early childhood education. Any teacher interested in expanding ideas about what it means to teach for success would find this article an interesting read.

GAINING A VOICE AFTER SCHOOL: Why After-School Programs Are a Powerful Resource for English-Language Learners. Weisburd, C., Education Week, 2008, 27(25), 28-29. Teaching for students' success is particularly challenging for instructors who work with English language learners. This article begins with a story of a middle school immigrant from Mexico. "Miguel ... is struggling to acclimate to a new school, language, and culture while also dealing with the social and developmental challenges of adolescence. His beginner-level English leaves him lost during class discussions. He dreams of working with computers someday, but he's floundering through textbooks and tests" (p. 28).

Miguel is doing double duty, in that he is trying to develop a new language at the same time he is attempting to learn the content of the curriculum. Sadly, there is not enough time for teachers to focus on both oral language development and content during regular school hours. "During the school day, speaking time is short: ELL students average less than 90 seconds per day in classroom talk time. After-school programs can fill the gap" (p. 28).

Weisburd discusses the type of after-school program that promotes oral language development and helps ELL students learn and practice English--something that is not as possible or practical during the school day. Weisburd describes effective strategies for ELL learners that have been researched and identified by the Alliance for Excellent Education. …

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