7 Traits Kids Need to Succeed?

I’m really interested in thinking through and writing about character traits and virtue. It was a big part of my dissertation and has continued to guide much of my research and writing. Partly motivated by my two kids and an interest in reclaiming and reconnecting with my kid-self, I’m particularly interested in kids and character development. I’ve even thought about writing a troublemaking book of virtues for kids (or editing one, at least).

Because of this ongoing interest, I was excited about Paul Tough’s recent book, How Children Succeed–Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. But, since first hearing about it while listening to an NPR segment back in September, I’ve become a little dubious, especially after reading this article (and tweeting about it):

Today, I came across yet another tweet about it:

As I looked over the seven character traits—Grit, Curiosity, Self-control, Social intelligence, Zest, Optimism and Gratitude—I was inspired to create a new problematizer, combining these traits with a photo from my recent Thanksgiving trip to Northern Minnesota and Lake Superior.

I want to reserve my comments about the book until I’ve read it (I’m buying it for Kindle today). One quick question: How does self-control fit into all of this? Since I’m not a big fan of (over) valuing self-control, I’m wary of it being included as one of the traits.

And, here’s one more question, based on this passage from this article:

character is “not about morality,” says Tough, a Canadian-born journalist. “It’s more about learning a set of skills to help kids achieve their goals.”

What’s the difference between character traits, virtues and skills? I’m fascinated by how we understand these terms differently and what those understandings mean for how we practice (or don’t practice) ethics and/or morality.

A Few of My Posts on Virtue and Kids

On Self-Control and the Trouble with Discipline, part 1 and part 2
What are some “tools for living” and where should they be taught?
What are family values?
Playgrounds, kids and making trouble

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