Passage 3 (14pts):
Better people make better students
Hilary Wilce explains the importance of teaching
pupils to be brave, resilient, and kind.
Character matters. In fact, it matters more than
anything else when it comes to doing well in school
– and life. Yet parents and schools are actively
preventing children from developing their inner
resources, either by being too neglectful, or by
never allowing them to fail.
But its main concern is with poor children. It looks
at why so many educational interventions fail to
help disadvantaged students do better and
demonstrates that it is things like perseverance and
determination that ultimately help children succeed.
This old-fashioned message would have been
common once but appears to have vanished from
the modern world.
This was not because I disagreed with its thesis but
because I was deep into researching what seemed at
first glance to be the same subject. US social affairs
reporter Paul Tough had produced How Children
Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of
. The working title of my book was
Backbone: What Children Need, Aren't Getting and
How to Give it Back to Them.
Drawing on neuroscience, economics, psychology
and child development, Tough shows how qualities
such as self-mastery and optimism are what make
children succeed, and how, in the light of this
parenting and character-based schooling can make
all the difference. It's a persuasive argument, and
for anyone involved in creating educational policy,
it should be forced reading, so they can see how
fiddling with school structures can never, by itself,
help pupils do better.
On the way, it looks at the research showing how
children are becoming more self-absorbed and less
able to deal with setbacks
, and outlines how this in
turn is making them less equipped to work with
others and bounce back from disappointments. All
this sprang out of the growing unease I felt as I
spent time in schools. As a journalist, I was usually
there to write about 'development' in education - a
revamped curriculum, or inventive method of
teaching - yet it seemed to me that pupils' attitudes
were too often sabotaging the very things designed
to help them. And not, alas, in any exhilaratingly
One said each new intake seemed less willing to
share or even hang their own coats on their own
pegs. Another complained about the staggering
sense of entitlement many pupils now demonstrated
- if he gave them poor marks for a piece of work,
they felt it was never because they could have done
better, but only because he was 'picking on' them.
(And often, he said, their parents agreed.)
All this matters desperately because in a
competitive world, tomorrow's adults will have to
draw deeply on their personal resources to navigate
life's constant changes. A good life demands
courage, resilience, honesty, and kindness. This is
the true spine of success
, without which we are all
jellyfish. And since no one wants their child to be a
jellyfish, our prime job as parents and teachers has
to help our children build the backbone they need.
For questions 1-6, choose which of the paragraphs A-G fit into the numbered gaps in the article. There is one
extra paragraph which does not fit any of the gaps.
Rather, children seemed distracted, or else worryingly devoted to getting things ‘right’. And when I
started to ask teachers about this, I released a tsunami of anxiety about the everyday behaviour they
were seeing in school.
Reaction to both these publications was diverse, and it wasn't just parents who responded. And while
they had much in common
, there was one aspect of his research that seemed dubious to me.
But when I got over myself and settled down to read his work, I realized we were approaching the same
important territory from different angles. His is a brilliantly readable account of the growing evidence
that inner resources count more than any amount of extra teaching when it comes to overcoming
Meanwhile, universities were raising the alarm about how today’s ‘satnav’ students seemed less able to
think for themselves. A toxic combination of teaching to the test at school and parents hovering over
their lives, was starting to mean that even those headed for the most prestigious universities were
helpless when they first had to fend for themselves.
This is the message of a new education book that has been topping the best-seller charts in the US. It
has caused great debate by pointing out that over-assiduous parenting is associated with rising rates of
anxiety and failure.
My book, by contrast, is being written specifically for parents to show what strength of character
consists of. It identifies six key values that
, when knitted together, give a person deep-rooted focus,
integrity, and resilience, and suggests an outline for encouraging children to grow the ‘backbone’ of
But, as this book shows, character is badly in need of a comeback, and some pioneering schools are
already starting to put it at the heart of their curriculum. It's a timely message, yet last summer, when the
book was first published
, it had me grinding my teeth in fury.
7. Do How Children Succeed (Tough’s book) and Backbone (the author’s book) talk about the same
subject? Briefly explain in your own words.
~~~ THE END ~~~