Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker


Selected Print Articles and Interviews

Stay Focused

The Economist, January 19, 2013

After decades of failed efforts to improve the lives of poor students, Mr Tough has written a fine and provocative book about the kind of work that seems to be making a difference.


“There’s Lots That Can Be Done”

Lionel Foster, Baltimore Sun, October 26, 2012

In his new best-selling book, Mr. Tough examines the lifelong impacts of stress during childhood and the noncognitive skills, like grit and curiosity, that could help mitigate early learning deficits.


Cuddle Your Kid!

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, October 21, 2012

Decades of fascinating research is now wonderfully assembled in Paul Tough’s important new book, How Children Succeed. Long may this book dwell on the best-seller lists!


Rethinking What Leads to Success in Education

Greg Toppo, USA Today, October 3, 2012

“We haven’t been able to solve big problems because we’ve been looking in the wrong places,” writes author Paul Tough, whose new book, How Children Succeed, is reigniting interest in the topic.


The Psych Approach

David Brooks, New York Times, September 28, 2012

In Paul Tough’s essential book, How Children Succeed, he describes what’s going on. Childhood stress can have long lasting neural effects, making it harder to exercise self-control, focus attention, delay gratification and do many of the other things that contribute to a happy life.


Forget Rating Teachers. Think Grit 101.

Jay Mathews, “Class Struggle” blog, Washington Post, September 13, 2012

A wonderfully written new book reveals a school improvement measure in its infancy that has the potential to transform our schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. The book is How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough.


Why kids need to fail to succeed in school

Margaret Wente, The Globe and Mail, September 1, 2012

Mr. Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, combines compelling findings in brain research with his own first-hand observations on the front lines of school reform. His book is an inspiration. It has made me less of a determinist, and more of an optimist.


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Selected Radio/Podcast Interviews

Paul Tough at Aspen Ideas Festival (with James Bennet)

Minnesota Public Radio, August 8, 2013

The author of “How Children Succeed,” Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter most have less to do with cognitive skills and more to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.


“Midday with Dan Rodricks,” WYPR Baltimore, October 30, 2012.

(Note: Interview starts about 8 minutes in.)

Why do some students soar in the classroom while others fail? A new generation of researchers believes student success might have more to do with character traits – perseverance, curiosity, optimism and self-control – than with intelligence. Our guest, author Paul Tough.


“The Daily Circuit,” Minnesota Public Radio, October 17, 2012

Character, not test scores, is the key to children succeeding in school and in life, says Paul Tough. His new book, How Children Succeed, brings together narratives and scientific studies from various disciplines to paint a holistic approach to redefining how children succeed.


Parenting Unplugged with host Todd Mansfield, September 19, 2012

Character, Grit, Curiosity, Adversity: four very powerful words and four words we all need to incorporate into our parenting. Todd and Paul talk about how things have changed in schools, how things need to change in schools and how all parents and children can overcome and succeed in life.


EconTalk with host Russ Roberts, September 17, 2012

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why children succeed and fail in school and beyond school. The conversation closes with the implications for public policy in fighting poverty.


“This American Life,” Public Radio International, September 14, 2012

As kids and teachers head back to school, we wanted to turn away from questions about politics and unions and money and all the regular school stuff people argue about, and turn to something more optimistic — an emerging theory about what to teach kids, from Paul Tough’s new book How Children Succeed.


“Morning Edition,” NPR, September 4, 2012

A child’s success can’t be measured in IQ scores, standardized tests or vocabulary quizzes, says author Paul Tough. Success, he argues, is about how young people build character.


More Radio/Podcast Interviews »

Selected Video Clips

Gregg screenshot

Paul Tough on Allan Gregg in Conversation

Paul Tough joins “Allan Gregg in Conversation” on TVO. March 2013.

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Fox Friends screenshot

Paul Tough on Fox and Friends

Paul Tough on “Fox and Friends” on Fox News Channel, February 2013.

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Paul Tough at Marquette University Law School

Paul Tough on Mike Gousha’s program “On the Issues,” in conversation at Marquette University in Milwaukee, November 2012.

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Paul Tough on “Tavis Smiley” on PBS

In an interview with Tavis Smiley, Paul Tough challenges the belief that intelligence is the sole indicator of value in the education system. November 2012.

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Paul Tough on the importance of adversity in childhood

In a speech, Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, details how some students could actually benefit from having more adversity in their lives. November 2012.

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Paul Tough at the Los Angeles Public Library in conversation with Patt Morrison

Paul Tough introduces us to a new generation of scientists and educators who are radically rethinking our understanding of how children develop character, how they learn to think, and how they overcome adversity. September 2012.

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Paul Tough talks about education and parenting with ParentMap in Seattle

Author Paul Tough sat down with ParentMap to talk about his book How Children Succeed and examine this central question: Why do some children succeed while others fail? September 2012.

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Paul Tough on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC

Discussing education politics and teacher evaluations along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and author Wes Moore, September 2012.

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Paul Tough talks with Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Ideas Festival

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, and Russell Shaw, head of Georgetown Day School, argue that poor high school preparation and a lack of student ownership have contributed to the world’s highest college dropout rate. July 2012.

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