This is the first book I read after I finished my Master’s degree in Secondary School Science. Yes, definitely I’m going for teaching science to kids! But first, it is about understanding what drives kids, their motivation and their interests!

In this sense, the book by Paul Tough addresses non-cognitive skills (resilience, curiosity, tenacity) and cognitive skills, and the relation between them with respect to learning. Teaching one or the other type of skills uses distinct strategies, with the non-cognitive skills not being even declared in the teaching process. Teaching non-cognitive-skills is about being a mentor, empathetic, kind but not softy, transmitting a sense of belonging , self-confidence and purpose. You cannot teach character and grit they way you teach maths. Or should you teach maths as you teach grit? Here comes the chess instructor Elizabeth Spiegel as an example. I still have to watch the movie Brooklyn Castle.

Another interesting idea is the building blocks of learning. How do we motivate anybody to do anything? What are the motivational choices? He cites the work of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan on the three human needs behind intrinsic motivation: need for competence, need for autonomy and need for relatedness (personal and social connections). All again is based on the non-cognitive factors, a collection of mindsets and habits and attitudes that are highly dependent on the context in which children are learning. So basically, for educators, there are two toolboxes: relationships and pedagogy, towards practicing and developing analytical skills: critical thinking, deep reading and learning, and complex problem-solving. For this goal, we, as educators, need to create experiences of persisting through an intellectual challenge and succeeding despite the struggle, producing feelings of both competence and autonomy.

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