Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yes, We Can Help Our Students to Succeed

Jim Schaefer

I recently had the interesting experience of reading two different serious books that both contained an inspirational message for teachers in their relationship with their students.

In her book, The Next American Revolution, the venerable Grace Lee Boggs, now 98 years young, talked about the need to create “a loving, caring environment in which young people can complete their schooling and also develop their leadership skills” (p. 177).

Boggs observed that this kind of environment that will develop individuals and groups who can respond “creatively with passion and imagination to the real problems and challenges that they face where they live and work” (p. 178).

In his book, How Children Succeed, Paul Tough (2012) argued that the people who do best in life are those taught to develop certain characteristics of conscientiousness, including being “orderly, hard-working, reliable, respectful of social norms,” and especially “self-control” ( p. 73).

I have found this to be true of my own students. The students who were successful were those who, as Duckworth said, developed a “passionate commitment” and an “unswerving dedication to achieve that mission” (p. 74, in Tough, 2012). As teachers, we can work with our students to develop that quality.


Boggs, G. L. (2011). The next American Revolution: Sustainable     activism for the twenty-first century. Berkeley, CA: University     of California Press.
Tough, P. (2012). How children succeed: Grit, curiosity, and the     hidden power of character. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin     Harcourt.

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