A while ago I had a little project that I called 5000 words. It was a small publication where 5 people would submit summaries of books in less than 1000 words each. It never really got off the ground like I wanted it to for reasons I am sure you don't care about.
Anyway, I thought I would submit my own summary here. This is 555 words and takes less than 3 minutes to read.
In case you are interested.
P.S. this submission is also the best way to learn from a book.
Author – Paul Tough Genre – Nonfiction, Education, Social Sciences, Children's Studies, Policy, Leadership and Decision Making
Target audience – Those who feel there is more to education than just learning facts
You should (or should not) read this book if: You should read this book because it explores what "non-cognitive" skills are needed in order to succeed in life. Additionally, there are a few experiments that are rather interesting to reflect upon that show that the human being is born into fixed character traits but that character is much more malleable - even beyond the first years of life - which affirms the Wesleyan tradition of sanctification.
Plot/Overview/Abstract: If the only point to go to school is to get an education on the things that you need to know for your job, then those who hold GED's should have the same level of life success as those who obtain a traditional high school diploma. But the fact of the matter is individuals with GED's may be able to pass the same test as high school graduates, but the evidence points to those with high school diplomas have higher wages and longer and happier lives than those with GEDs. Education on all levels and areas is thought of the transmission of knowledge, which it is. However, it is also more than that. Tough, points out that success in life is not your cognitive abilities, but in your "non-cognitive" abilities (a term coined by the work of James Heckman) through the development executive function in the brain. The conversation of what are the non-cognitive skills that are needed in life vary for different groups highlighted in the book, however there are several that overlap - self control (delay gratification), conscientiousness (being thorough), grit (passionate commitment to a single mission), and resourcefulness (finding outside resources to solve problems). If education, of any sort, were to take seriously the development of the non-cognitive then we could not only could we move toward closing the achievement gap of rich and poor students, but we also would be able to talk about education reform beyond the political debates.
Something I learned or challenged me: Tough says the science has something to say to liberal and conservative approaches to education reform. Where liberals may tend to want to develop antipoverty tools and government assistance to elevate test scores, perhaps we ought to be looking at building what conservatives call "character" in students. However, where conservatives might think that the character strengths that matter to success one is either born with or without, the science shows that the tools to success in life are indeed tools that can be taught to anyone. How I integrated this book to my ministry/church/theology/Faith: The science behind the malleability of the brain reinforces the Wesleyan understanding that human beings are able to move on toward being made perfect in love. Humans are not made our of concrete, preordained and unchangeable but rather made more of clay that is flexible and mold-able.
If you like this you might like:
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't - Nate Silver
Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg