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Book Review: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough is an interesting book on how parents can instill good lifelong habits in children early on. Tough believes that behavioral traits are solid predictors of performance over time.

For instance, traits like self-control, diligence and perseverance are better predictors of success in life than IQ alone. As such, the author shows parents how to work on these traits well before formal schooling.

Persistence and delayed gratification are key elements which are needed for young children to navigate the academic regimen to arrive at good career choices. The author provides many examples of how parents can develop these highly desired behavioral traits so that they become part of a child’s character much earlier in life.

The book shows how children brought up in stressful environments are at a high risk for repeating the mistakes of their parents. This is documented in the ACE study cited by Tough. As a result, more work is needed during the initial education experience in order to shield children from too much stress, engender strong character traits and help children deal with unstructured problem-solving by playing games like chess.

Tough believes that there are no shortcuts to success in raising children.  Resilience, resourcefulness and true grit are important conditions precedent to success.

These traits measure a child’s ability to cope with failure, develop alternative strategies and arrive at alternate solution sets to life’s continuing challenges. The book points out that conscientiousness is a good predictor for desired outcomes like graduating college.

Tough points out that it’s the bodily reaction to stress rather than the stress itself that is most problematic for many people. In addition, mental contrasts or pictures are important to articulate choices among a plethora of alternatives.

The author explains that education opens doors for people by developing the IQ to the fullest potential. In practice, elements of the IQ are enhanced by continued hard work at solving unstructured problems and discussing issues with multi-dimensional implications and possibilities.

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough is an important educational resource on child development which every parent and educator should read. Educators need to read this book carefully because academic success has a considerable behavioral component which transcends what teachers teach in classrooms.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.