“Tough” Child Upbringing Reaction/Relfection

When reading and reviewing some of the Paul Tough book, there were things that I had already assumed to be correct in terms of parenting, and how children respond to stress. For example, I believed that there was a definite cause and effect to how parents nurture their newborns through childhood. I didn’t really know what measures that would be taken for this, however.

Michael Meaney from McGill University used his series of rat research discoveries correlate back to how human children are raised. As fascinated as I was about this, I was also shocked at how it all worked. I found it intriguing and entertaining to be walked through the series of tests that Meaney performed on the rats, and although I felt bad for the pups, I could also see how many children the same situation affected.

Ainsworth’s studies on attachment were something that I had felt existed in children as well. Many children that are overly attached had prime nurturing in their first year of life. In most cases, things like this continue throughout childhood. On the other hand, parents who feel burdened around their children are the ones at fault, because when their children throw tantrums, ignore them, or lash out are at the other end of the non-treatment.

Ainsworth and Liberman’s statement on the child’s living conditions was also something I could see as well, although I never really thought about it. “When you are bombarded by poverty, uncertainty, and fear, it takes a superhuman quality to provide the conditions for a secure attachment” (Tough 38). Not only is this true, but this is something that parents have less control over, I feel.

One of the biggest points thus far in this reading, however, in on page 43.

“…The most effective vehicle for improving children’s outcomes is not the school or the church                or even the job center; it is the family- or, if necessary, the creation of substitute or             supplemental family structures for children who don’t have them.”

Basically, this says that even if children don’t have a safe place where they can feel comfortable, there needs to be one for them. There needs to be a place for them to go, where they have someone to talk to, someone to give them love and emotional support. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a much better concept than allowing a child to fail based on their upbringing.


How Children (learn to) Succeed

Through the intro to Paul Tough’s book, one can find that it’s somewhat unconventional to what parents and students are known to believe. To say that, for example, children will learn something by repetition is a commonplace ideal. Tough thinks that parents have been raising their children the wrong ways.


Taking a brief look at the Fat Brain Toys website, we see the more conventional approach to teaching children what to do and what not to. Toys with repetition, that make children focus and learn are what their mission statement is. If you can beat something into a child with continuous repetition, good for you. That’s really how most brain games work.


Tough suggests that we haven’t been utilizing the more basic, primal time frames with children. He explains that you can make a child learn something by simply making them repeat it over and over. He says that people have been looking in the wrong places to find the answers as to why specific children don’t succeed. His answer is simple, as stated above: “if we want to improve the odds for children in general, and for poor children in particular, we need to approach childhood anew, to start over with some fundamental questions about how parents affect their children; how human skills develop; how character is formed” (Tough xxiv)


That should say it all. Children won’t succeed to their full potential if they’re always being beaten down, or verbally abused at home. They won’t do as well as they should with constant neglect, and that’s the basis to Tough’s research.

Comparing Willingham to Whole Brain Learning

Taking a look at the whole brain teaching website, I was interested to see that there were a lot of similarities that correlated to the Willingham book. With that said, it really didn’t take long to browse through the website to find something to compare.


The first thing that I noticed was that when clicking onto the above tabs, there was a list of options that would best suit a specific learning option. The Willingham book demonstrates that there isn’t one way to learn for everybody, and that basically is the function of this entire website. What I didn’t understand is whether this site should have a specific idea about it, because it was so broad. Willingham suggests that there isn’t a set way to learn, and he gives us these peripheral cues that are supposed to determine what schools feel is necessary to teach. The ideas here are categorized into Enlightenment and Romantic, and telling a long story short, they’re all either science and government (Enlightenment) or they’re intuition and natural (Romantic). The issue here is that within education, students are supposed to learn more from one of these two learning theories, whether science makes things seem smarter and are therefore more appealing, or is nature and intuition questions the student and makes them want to learn. Willingham make sure that he presents enough of an argument to where we realize that neither are correct.


The Whole Brain Teaching website gives the teacher options as to how to properly get a students’ attention. Whether it’s a quick one-minute presentation, collaboration between classmates, or using a simple word to get the students’ attention will go a long ways. Here is where Willingham relates. In the first two chapters of his book, he stresses that there are no correct ways of properly teaching a class and keeping their attention for its entirety. The website shows that there are multiple ways to go about making sure students feel like they’re attributing, which was the overall point Willingham tries to make.