How to Build Character
1. Learned Optimism
Tough reflects the experience of David Levin viewing his students with “character traits” to build a sense of hope within themselves. David presented these traits by posting quotes of ‘work hard’ and ‘be nice.’ After David was given a book about ‘Learning Optimism’, he realized that people needed to understand why good and bad things happen to them. David reviewed over his teaching ‘techniques’ as not meeting this need because he was “yelling” at students for misbehave conduct such as not turning in assignments. David was correct about his technique not being useful towards building character for his students by yelling and making negative comments. I would use this technique in my future classroom as what I should not do towards my students. To help build character within my students, I know I must be encouraging and understanding of what they are going through personally. This allows me to view why their actions occurred positive or negative within themselves; therefore, I can reflect with them how to overcome or continue their actions.
2. Character Strengths
Tough reflects how ‘character’ can be taught differently and result in different meanings. To view characters, Tough says, “They are skills you can learn; they are skills you can practice; and they are skills you can teach.” (Tough, p.59). I believe Tough is suggesting to use a technique that will consistently build towards character. For example, a teacher could encourage their students to help one another with assignments to promote helpfulness towards others. This example is a technique I would love to include in my classroom to gain that social experience but at the same time building a character of willing to help others when they are in need of help.
Tough reflects on Ducksworth’s understanding of how to achieve motivation through mechanics of motivation and volition. Tough describes this view as planning for a goal but actually pursuing the process to achieve it. To implement this character into students can be very challenging and frustrating for the student and teacher. This is where a teacher needs to reflect on the student’s goal and ensure the student can achieve this without wanting to give up. To help a student reach their goal, we set a big goal but focus on a smaller goal to acknowledge accomplishments that can be reached. This can help promote a stronger will/volition to know they can achieve a set goal and hopefully strive for bigger as they continue this process. This concept is to help build a character within the students as to how much will/volition they will give to believe in themselves.
Tough reflects the way grit can be presented in a person by the way they push themselves each day. This thrive is motivated simply by the person wanting to be successful and showing these results as it may impact their education or work. To teach grit to students, educators must see it will not be easy as students will want to give up at times and this should be expected. Students need to feel emotions through their own achievement because we all know it is not easy. I would definitely push grit within myself to know I can present the same thrive towards my students to not give up. I would have my students research or teach them of someone like Albert Einstein being underestimated of his knowledge and ended up being one of the most intelligent people in this world. Hopefully it would push my students to get a sense of grit to know failure will always be a part of the process but giving up will not lead to their achievements.
5. Good Habits
Tough talks about Martin Seligman’s metacognition which is described as, “thinking about thinking.” This cognitive thinking skill reflects on how people think about handling situations before they make the full commitment to do so. The factor of developing good habits is to increase these habits but with positive meaning to actually achieve an impact that can continuously seek these positive interactions later in their life. I would interpret good habits in my classroom by promoting scenarios that will make my students think of how they would handle a situation then meaningful interpret it into the real world. An example I would use would be, if you want to get a higher score on your test, what can you do? Notice I asked “if” because not all students may not have a goal within their test scores, but it can be set elsewhere. I would not want to pressure my students into thinking they always need to want more but to only develop their thinking skills to promote good habits later down the road when they prepare for college.
Tough, P. (2013). How children succeed: Grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character. New York: Mariner, HMH.
After reading Chapter 2 in How Children Succeed, List and explain 5 case studies from the text and how they build character. Include how you might use this information in your classroom. 700 words, APA formatting needed. (3 hours)
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