The Search for Salvific Effects
How Kids Learn Resilience
by Paul Tough
The Atlantic, June 2016
If you’re an educator today, you’ve likely noticed a growing emphasis on character education. Words like grit, resilience, and perseverance abound. Ever since the passage of No Child Left Behind, teachers and administrators have decried the salvific effects of standardized tests. These tests have failed to offer insights about the types of characteristics that have become linked with long-term academic, professional, and personal success. With NCLB in the rearview mirror, cultivating these social-emotional traits, which include the likes of stress management, commitment to long-term projects, delaying of gratification, and impulse control, is increasingly becoming the new goal of schools. Although Paul Tough focuses primarily on the experience of inner city public schools in inculcating these character traits, he also offers thoughts on how a school might, or might not, be successful in this endeavor. Additionally, he explores the question of whether or not these skills can be taught in the same way that we might teach math or history. Drawing on research from psychologists, economists, and sociologists, Tough’s article is a must-read for independent school educators and administrators asking how character development fits into the holistic education offered at our schools.