The Secret to Success

Everyone wants to be successful - yet obviously not many are - so it's natural to ask whether there's a secret to success.

Do having high IQ, rich parents, and going to college prep school guarantee success? One would think so, but ask anyone who knows a smart and promising student drop out of college or otherwise flame out.

So, what is the missing ingredient? In this interesting article by Paul Tough for The New York Times Magazine, the secret sauce is "character".

For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”

The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.”

Parents, if you read only one article today, let it be this one: Link (Image: Tape installation by Stephen Doyle / Photo by Stephen Wilkes for the NY Times)


Newest 2
Newest 2 Comments

While I agree with Randolph's assessment, I disagree with his actions. It is the school's job to coach students in academic excellence. It is the parent's job to teach them character. Even more so, if the school abandons academics, most students will be stupid well as having poor character.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

-Calvin Coolidge
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Email This Post to a Friend
"The Secret to Success"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window