Our October 2020 pick for Now Read This, the PBS NewsHour’s book club with The New York Times, is Paul Tough’s “Helping Children Succeed”, which looks at the unique challenges that children dealing with adversity face when they enter the classroom, and how teachers and policymakers can work to improve these students’ chances at success.
Tough, a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to the public radio program This American Life, has written extensively on education and first began exploring the links between childhood stress and life success in his 2012 book, “How Children Succeed.” In it, Tough argued that the benchmarks of intelligence that many educators use to measure success — such as test scores — are not nearly as vital as character qualities such as perseverance, curiosity and self-control.
In “Helping Children Succeed,” Tough delves into how teachers and caregivers can foster environments where children develop these character traits, and looks at examples of how schools across the United States are working to do so.
“Tough is adept at translating academic jargon into precise, accessible prose,” wrote Kevin Carey, the author of “The End of College,” in a New York Times review of the book. “Addressing early childhood, where American social policies are particularly weak, he sees great opportunities to help distressed parents improve their parenting, uncomfortable as the judgment implied in that may be.”
With hundreds of schools continuing remote learning amid the pandemic, the landscape of early childhood education looks vastly different than it did a year ago. This month, the NewsHour will ask Tough to consider what consequences this could have on the U.S. education system, particularly for students living in difficult home situations. We hope you’ll read along.