I am so happy to be here and so excited to read first of all having read the article by Paul tuff and excited about reading his book can character be taught a lot of new thinking on this Paul is on the cutting edge of what’s being done in this arena and we at NBC are partnering this year with Aspen with the ideas festival for our education nation panels leading in our case to a summit in New York City in the fall for education nation you’ll see these on your seats so we’re looking forward to continuing this conversation and in fact I think you’ve sat down already with Brian Williams and been talking about some of these issues with him as well for Rock Center can character be taught can schools teach characters should they what do we mean by a character anyway Paul tough for those who didn’t see the New York Times piece is a journalist and author of whatever it takes Geoffrey Canada’s quest to change Harlem and America as well as this new book coming out as we say in September how children succeed grit curiosity and the hidden power of character his work has appeared in The New York Times the magazine cover story entitled what if the secret to success is failure Dominic Randolph is the head of school at Riverdale country school a pre-k through 12th grade independent school of about 1,100 students located in New York City Dominic began thinking about character education when he moved to the United States he was educated at British boarding schools where there was as much focus on teaching character as there was on teaching academic subjects and Russell Shaw known to many of you I think in this audience from the Washington area as the head of school at Georgetown day school in washington DC washington dc’s Georgetown day incorporates character education in its day instruction and a belief that school curriculum is as important that the character curriculum is as important as the academic curricula so let’s talk about what we mean by character in this case we’re not talking about what you would think of character honesty truth judgment we’re thinking about something else when I throw out the words to you conscientiousness grip resilience perseverance optimism resourcefulness professionalism integrity self-control willpower zest gratitude curiosity social intelligence as we go through this discussion we’ll see that those words have a particular significance when we talk about teaching character in education Paul what is your research shown and how did you come to this and largely we want to also talk about the work that Dave Levin has done with Kipp because he was key to this in bringing this into the Kipp schools and in going to the research done by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania so when I started working on this book I was starting from this idea that there were skills out there that seem to matter in kids success that didn’t have to do with IQ that didn’t have to do with scores on straight cognitive tests but there aren’t a lot of good words for those skills and and so I started my first inroads into this idea was through economics and economists called these non-cognitive skills so for a while I thought I was writing a book about non cognitive skills the problem with the phrase non cognitive skills one is is that it puts everybody right to sleep and the other is that when you talk to psychologists who are also very involved in this they point out that some of these so-called non cognitive skills are in fact cognitive so that non cognitive skills is a really really bad word for it and then I met Dave Levin of Kipp and Dominic Randolph of Riverdale and I found that they were embarked on this project to try to teach some of these non-cognitive skills and they had a different word for it and that that phrase was character strengths but but the character strengths that they were talking about were very similar to the non cognitive skills that these economists were talking about things like perseverance grit gratitude curiosity self-control things that we’ve learned through the scientific method can can actually predict how well kids do in school so so that was the word I started using character instead of non-cognitive skills the problem with character is that it is a word that most of us think of as something fixed that characters something you get at birth and never really changes and they are talking about a very different definition of character as something that is very malleable something you can learn something you can teach something that parents absolutely instill in their kids but that teachers can teach as well and so the more that the more time that I spent with them the more I came to believe that what they’re doing is exactly what these economists we’re

looking for ways to instill exactly the skills that kids need to succeed in all sorts of ways Dominic you were working with Dave Levin and you were searching for a way to teach this yeah and you found that there was actually an academic Bible of this Seligman’s work and then Angela Duckworth his student and now a professor as well so tell me a little bit about the practical application at Riverdale and as you have had experience through your own students and through working with Dave at the chemicals so maybe I’ll tell you just a bit about the process whereby we the sort of sheet that was handed out of character this sort of character growth card that’s actually what we developed with Angela and Marty Seligman Chris Peterson you know mainly you pan out of the positive psychology center and it looks like a very simple list but it actually really took us about two to three years of discussion and trying to figure out how to take some of Mahdi’s Seligman’s ideas in positive psychology which really do enunciate along with Chris Peterson a set of 24 strengths that sort of supposedly encompasses all of human endeavor lots of different belief systems lots of different philosophies and so we tried to see if we could how we did extrapolate however get in a discussion to see how we take that and move that into a school in a real way and it took us some time to figure that out we were interested we didn’t feel that we could actually work at Kevin Riverdale two very different schools with some overlap in populations with kids you know I’ve got kids on financial aid or coming from Kipp to to Riverdale how could we bring a common set of strengths that we were going to focus in on in two very different schools so we spent a long time trying to hash out if we could knock it down from 24 to some manageable list and basically got down to this the list that you have in front of you that’s got ones like optimism curiosity we were very interested as a sort of Paul was saying an Android was talking about and moving away from the sort of moral character of honesty and you know integrity that seemed very very vague and trying to make it much more concrete and so even though that looks really simple the way that we actually got the indicators and I’d really point you to look on that sort of right-hand side of the sheet of the student behaviors was let’s say for optimism we asked kids faculty parents what is it like when you’re optimistic and we’ve got lists of over 200 to 300 behaviors then we’ll basically we the UPenn group statistics have knocked it down to about 50 non-redundant behaviors and then we went through is another rating system to try and get it so that we could find some actual behaviors that correlate with optimism not just viewed as from the individual’s point of view the student point of view but also from the faculty and parents point of view and so you know now we’ve been trying to say okay what do we do with this in the schools and it’s playing out slightly differently in the two schools I mean Kip’s got a character report card that’s done graded on a quarter every quarter they they give character ratings and they’ve been beta testing this and they’re rolling it out across schools a Riverdale it’s become much more of a sort of narrative type of feedback a way a language of character that we use in the schools rather than a numerical rating but it’s been very interesting to see it starting to staff use the culture I think of both schools if you go you know Kipp has it probably more obviously on the walls when you see you go in you see zest curiosity optimism gratitude all over the place I think at Riverdale it plays out slightly more in a sort of less overt way but you do see people talking English teachers talking about grit for instance so we’ve got lots of different ways we’re playing around with it and I’m happy to talk about that but I’ll also let you I want I want to get to what the outcomes are and how do you measure success failure and also at a time when our our test scores are so abysmal on a global scale you know what do you say to people who say what wait a second we we have the worst we know we’re at 17 and math and science and 27 and in English I may have flipped those and the piece of scores you know how do we why are we worried about these non-cognitive less measurable qualities at this time but I want to ask Russell at Georgetown how his character taught there why is it taught there we could push back do you get if any from students and parents thanks I will start importantly by putting our school in context we are at K to 12 school in Washington we were founded in 1945 as the first racially and religiously integrated school in DC at a time when that was a very big deal it was a very hard thing to do and that’s a story that the kids internalize

and live with and so we asked our kids we hand to them the project of going out into the world and and making an important difference and we have a Summer Institute where we train educators from public and independent schools and charter schools called the equity collaborative which is about making more just equitable schools so this project got underway at GDS a lot of schools have gone through the process of curriculum mapping and looking at topics like history and math and English from a pre-k to 12 perspective and those are certainly important skills that it’s important to do when you’re 35 if you can talk about the French American War at a cocktail party that’s fine but it’s not going to be a game changer for you but when you’re 35 if you can encounter something difficult something that you hadn’t expected and fall down and rally from that experience and think okay what did I take away from that that is going to be tremendously important and so we have slightly different nomenclature but we’ve defined a set of skills that we want all of our graduates to have when they walk across the stage at graduation and what does that look like at fourth grade what does that look like at eighth grade and frankly what does that look like beyond graduation and how do we stay connected to alumni and track those skills longitudinally nopal in tracking this how is it if at all different in affluent environments with affluent students and with low-income students I do think that it’s a different story in each of those types of schools and I think what Dominic and Dave have done is look for the commonalities between their two schools and look at the way that the character strengths matter at both of them but they came into it in a very different way so Dave Levin when he started the Kipp Academy almost 20 years ago he created this this system of very intensive education that crew that produced amazing test scores in his kids and his first eighth grade class had the 5th highest test scores in the city from a very low-income neighborhood in the South Bronx and he sort of felt at that point that he had solved the problem and got lots of accolades for that and then what he found as those kids went on through high school and college is that they were dropping out they most of them graduated from high school but a lot of them dropped out of college their graduation rate for college I think was 24% which in a low-income neighborhood is quite good but given that his goal was for all of them to graduate from college it was disappointing and that started him thinking well what are the skills that kids that these kids need to succeed it’s not just the math that we were teaching them in eighth grade so well and that started him into looking for this different set of skills and so one of the nice things for Dave I think and for schools that serve a mostly low-income population is that he’s got a really handy measurement of success for his kids it’s college graduation and that’s not the only thing that he wants for his kids but if if you grow up in a low-income neighborhood and you graduate from college you’re in very good shape much better shape than other kids in your neighborhood and and the percentage of kids graduating for four-year college in low-income neighborhoods continues to be very small so his goal is pretty clear and why he wants to teach these character strengths is to help with that college persistence for Russell and Dominic I think it’s more complicated because I my guess is that many many many of their alumni graduate from four-year colleges but what I heard from Dominic when I first met him was that he felt like for for his population that wasn’t a good enough measure of success that kids were graduating from college but then they were feeling lost they felt like they didn’t have the skills to go out and succeed in the world so in lots of ways I think they have a bigger challenge in terms of measuring figuring out exactly what they’re what they’re trying to teach which character strengths matter and how you measure them but in lots of ways it’s starting at least from the same question because I think there’s some challenges among affluent kids that we might not have expect expected that you have encountered so you know the mission of my type of institution is a privileged institution that does have a percentage of kids on financial aid who are getting access to that sort of academically rigorous rigorous place and and you know I’m very proud of the teaching and the students to go to that school however I’ve got stories right I know I’ve worked at a the Lawrenceville school down just outside of Princeton and was academic dean there and then I became a head of Riverdale on you know two very similarly academically rigorous schools with similar types of populations two stories though of kids and these are the there’s a number of kids behind each of these stories so one story is of the kid that you bring from a family that’s never had access to a school like that and it’s only dreamt of going to a school like that but a kid

who’s really motivated to come who’s probably has no family member that’s gone to college but it’s just really really interested in coming to a school like that and the interesting thing in watching that those those groups of kids come through the score is that the standardized test scores are just not a good read right on that kid whether that kid will be successful over four years of high school or not and I think that’s a really really difficult question because if can’t succeed bringing in kids from non-traditional independent school lives and families and bring them in and have them to be successful so that’s a really big question like what went wrong when you’re bringing in these kids with 95th percentile 96 percentile who’ve been really prepped to go to a place like that but then they end up really not thriving and not thriving very quickly within their first year of being in a place like that that’s one story the other story though is I think of kids who come from you know really they’ve got a lot of resources in their backgrounds and they’re and they’ve had a lot of care and attention people looking after them and they go they come to a very rigorous environment and for some reason or another they end up not thriving it’s not they’ve got high test scores they’ve got high grades from middle school but something’s happening that when they meet challenges they’re not able to actually rise up to that challenge I think both of those stories are actually really really difficult and need to be solved and therefore you know looking and saying okay we’re just gonna have more standardized test scores that’s not the answer to that it’s saying what are these other capacities that Paul’s written so eloquently about what are these other capacities and I think David and I and Angela Duckworth were very interested in trying to define it and then say okay can you actually teach it do you have any way of measuring yet how what you’ve implemented works among those who graduate from Riverdale and go on to school go on to house yeah I mean I think we’re on a multi-year quest on this I mean we really started actually in elementary and middle school we’ve not done as much implementing this I mean you can imagine that telling a sort of high school you know junior to be more zesty really go over very well as I sort of I can just imagine the response yeah yeah it’s a great response but uh but you know with the younger kids we’ve really focused in on that and trying to get this language in and trying to put it as part of our reporting structure so I think it’s going to be interesting to see if our attrition rates you know how that works out tracking individual kids seeing if this type of thing helps seeing if the you know I think there’s actually even some interesting research about how this type of focus on non-cognitive improves today’s test scores if you think about Walter Michelle’s marshmallow test that actually demonstrated a an increase of 210 points higher on the SAT SAT 12 years after these kids were tested so I think it’s uh it will be interesting to see we’re certainly intent on that we are we’re trying to develop sort of a center with Angela and David in New York City to try and continue research on this so if we actually let’s say give the data behind what we’re doing but we see it as a long longitudinal sort of fight I guess Russell what about your experiences one of the places that’s been in focus for us per years is around social intelligence and around what we call collaborating across difference and we recognize that collaborative skills are going to be increasingly important for kids in a world that’s getting smaller there’s a fascinating study by a guy named Richard light at Harvard at school and he writes about the fact that they did a study on on what are the factors that contribute most to success in college and they looked at the professor and they looked at the time of the class and they looked at different kinds of preparation the number one factor contributing to success in college was whether kids knew how to form or join a study group that was a game-changer for kids and so the ability of kids to pull people together and increasingly people who are different from them is absolutely essential and so we spend a lot of times where a very intentionally diverse school we think that and we know that there’s quite a bit of research that that makes us a much more effective school when kids are in classes with classmates who are different from them they learn significantly more and so they have a lot of practice in engaging wrestling bumping up against different ideas and different perspectives what we’ve been tracking now is those kids head off to college and some of them in across the country in different places is their success in engaging with people who are different from them and how do they carry that skill into their life and how do they use it to understand different people’s perspectives to put themselves in their shoes and to really build contexts to create contexts in which disparate people can learn from each other what about the other research being done in this field of persistence and grit what are you seeing among your

colleagues in terms of conclusions is it very early stage but it is I mean but I think the one place where this research is really coming into fruition is about College persistence and particularly College persistence among low-income kids there’s a researcher at the University of Chicago named Melissa Roderick who has done some really persuasive research building on the ideas of non-cognitive skills about how exactly what it is that that will help a low-income kid graduate from a four-year college and and again those numbers are really low on the southside of Chicago where I did a lot of my reporting it is six or seven percent of no I’m sorry it’s less than that it’s two or three percent of high school freshmen who are graduating from a four-year college and when they look at why those kids are dropping out money is certainly part of it test scores is part of it but the biggest part is non-cognitive skills it’s having the ability to deal with what is for most of those kids a very different environment to work with people who are very different than than they are to get over disappointments to deal with a bad test score to deal with problems at home especially for kids who go away to college and so there are lots of organizations or a few organizations anyway I wrote about one called one goal in Chicago that’s working very specifically with low income high school juniors and seniors and what they’re trying to do is teach the non-cognitive skills that will lead to college graduation they’re also at the early stage of their work but my sense is that they’re the numbers that they’re showing are really persuasive that this could make a big difference in terms of college graduation rates for low income kids Dominic I ran and I don’t know if this is still the case that did you get a get rid of AP classes at Riverdale tell us why I’m not sure I’m not sure this I mean I think there’s an overlap with this work I’m not sure that it’s completely completely the same I mean basically the AP sort of has concentrated them in the midst of changing things a bit now but they have concentrated on content coverage and you know I think that that’s that’s what a lot of their tests you know measure is how well can you take on this content and then you know sort of regurgitate it back at the end of the year and so you know I don’t necessarily believe that’s a very good learning I mean there’s a lot of evidence in cognitive psychology that’s not a very effective way of learning something going through massive amounts of content doesn’t necessarily lead to enduring understanding whether it’s in disciplines or across disciplines so I felt that you know I don’t think that it a lot of colleges are actually and universities are actually questioning the validity of the AP as far as what it actually correlates with success in the various and disciplines that it offers I do think that the type of skills I mean it was interesting just listening to a bit at the the previous discussion and and and Thomas Friedman talking about you know he’s written extensively about the different type of skill set that these kids will need I don’t think we’re really I mean I think it’s sort of an impoverished view of expecting kids just to sort of learn a bunch of stuff powered it back to you and that’s the end of it I mean these kids have to be better critical thinkers they have to be better communicators they have to understand like if they you know the the final exam of high school shouldn’t be just filling in a sort of you know bubble test or taking an AP but it should be how can you go out and solve a null structured problem that doesn’t have easy answers and do you have the capacities to be able to do that some of those capacities are more let’s say you know critical thinking I mean so this is not opposed I mean some of the people out there have said well he’s focused on character stuff so that’s not as academically or intellectually challenging and I actually really push back on that these are the means whereby to up the ante about what a high school education should be and these type of capacities zest persistence self-control are sort of the things if you go to a place like idea which we’ve been doing some work with them and you look and see what type of projects they do and how well they do those projects these are more mapped on to those types of skill sets that those people are utilizing there and I think we’ve got to change the education system whether it be a Riverdale or Kipp or a Georgetown at any of the schools we need to change the educational system to think about different outcomes different capacity so that was the shift from AP it’s sort of linked to this I’d say and did the parents buy into this well I mean I think there’s a lot of evidence I mean I’ve now done it to help do it at two different schools and there’s really no evidence to show that it effects college admissions I mean the Stanford puts very much broadly on its admissions page they don’t count APs and so I just think they want you to take the most rigorous course that you can take within your institution if you have AP ApS in your curriculum then everything else is not judged as rigorous it doesn’t matter what it’s named so that that’s a real

problem for school so getting rid of ApS allowed to use to have really rigorous interdisciplinary courses things that you wouldn’t normally see at a high school that allow kids to exercise some of these capacities and also really stretch them intellectually I think one of the challenges but opportunities for us in education is to provide students with authentic learning experiences I began my education career as an instructor for outward-bound and I would take kids into the back country for up to a month at a time many of them who didn’t want to be there and one of that would send their kids to well it would it was that and in some cases it was actually kids who were there in lieu of serving in a juvenile detention facility so it was both extremes one of the first things that we did was we taught them how to put up their tent because you had to have a place to sleep and some of the kids were engaged and ready to do that and others were not paying the least bit of attention it didn’t care and didn’t want to be with me and didn’t want to be what they where they were and then it became nighttime and everybody went to sleep and some nights it would rain and if it rained and you hadn’t put up your tent well you would wake up soaking wet cold with a wet sleeping bag and all of the sudden you’d be much more interested in learning how do you put protects and it wasn’t because I said you know you got a c-minus on tents if they had this very authentic experience of having done something poorly we in our high school right now are engaged in a collaboration we have a sister school in Beijing and there’s a fish called the snake head which is invasive in the Potomac River and is eating all of the other native fish it turns out that the fish is local to Beijing and so our kids are collaborating with kids in China studying this fish in two different ecosystems and working with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and they’re skyping back and forth sometimes in English sometimes in Chinese to solve this very authentic problem it’s cool it’s interesting and they’re doing something they’re doing something real rather than something that you know did I get a four or five on my AP for that they have this very authentic experience of tackling a problem that they know is real Paul when you look at the difference between moral character and this kind of character education explain to us the performance character versus moral character and you know how you evaluate that in devising curricula I think in lots of ways they’re they’re not even in the same you know group of skills and and we call them both character and and they’re often confused but this division between moral character and and performance characteristic Eric tur is things that are more moral so judgment integrity kindness being good to your neighbor all really important things but but not necessarily the things that are going to lead you to success in life performance character more about how to have all the things that these guys have been talking about how to perform under pressure how to back bounce back from disappointment and so so so in lots of ways I feel like they’re different I feel like the early that there was an earlier era of character education in the Clinton administration when lots of schools started talking about character education and there were a lot of controversies about that and a lot of them were very politicized and I think people on the Left felt like character education was all about trying to Evangelic make make kids evangelicals and people on the right felt like it was the government trying to convince kids that diversity was important and so a lot of the programs from that era got watered down into sort of mushy values of the month and I think that what this new generation of character educators is doing is trying to think about it in a very different way and trying to draw on the both the language and the research around non cognitive skills instead of the ideas around values and ideally when you’re thinking about the curriculum does this become melded into teaching math science English whatever is it you know is it a separate category or is it just part of the thought process that the teacher brings to the classroom I think I think the schools the certainly the schools I looked at Kipp and Riverdale are still figuring that out so at Kipp I went to math classes and English classes and history classes where the teachers were talking about this stuff but I think that you know if it’s hard to figure out how to teach someone to be grateful how to teach someone to have self-control and in lots of ways I think it may look very different than then teaching in the way

that we generally think about teaching I mean one way I think a Kipp that it plays out is actually in the discipline process it’s so when kids get in trouble they now use the character language to try to get kids to think about why they made the mistakes they made how they could do things differently and it’s almost I mean it reminded me of a lot of metacognitive techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy it’s really getting kids to slow down and think about what they’re doing think about why they’re making the mistakes they’re making and change themselves so that that is really different than traditional teaching in the classroom but my sense actually at Kipp on other places is that that is going to be the tool that’s most effective to help get these take us inside the classroom how do you see it unfold right so III think that’s I mean I’m seeing it I think it’s so you want to sort of make it viral you sort of want to make it part of the culture so that it becomes part of the I mean we’ve tried to put it into the some of the language and to our faculty evaluation systems because I think if the faculty aren’t actually not modeling these character strengths then you can’t expect the kids to do that in a classroom I saw just recently an eighth grade teacher that was asking she had asked the kids halfway through the year to think about what is which one of these strengths had played out in their writing workshopping so they were doing sort of revisions of writing and these kids were writing these sort of meta narratives about that piece of work that they were finishing up and saying okay I you know felt that because I was really curious about this subject that therefore the writing turned out better and then they actually cared to revisit they sort of had to revisit this process at the end of the year picking out a strength or two that was good for them that was really supportive of their work and a strength or two that they had problems with and I think again it’s sort of suffused in the school I think is the way that it shouldn’t you know a lot of educational ideas it’s like you got to develop a new course a new program buy some new technology I mean I think something like this it’s like just how do we change our language how do we change our focus a bit there’s a lot of things going on in schools how can you focus on on these non-cognitive strengths in a way that’s sort of cultural and pervasive and sort of viral and teachers run with this stuff I mean it’s sort of amazing I mean teachers have been using this on the playground during recess and talking to kids and about how they need to be more self controlled and using that language even with very very young very very young kids and I think the earlier you do this the research shows the better it is one is we absolutely integrate this into academic studies so that when you’re in 9th grade English you start off by learning about Carol Dweck’s work on mindset and the idea of being that is intelligence fixed or is intelligence something that if you practice you get better and there is a lot of research that growth mine that makes a tremendous difference in terms of learning outcomes and actually simply knowing that language and simply understanding the research makes a difference in learning outcomes so as 9th graders they they learn about these concepts and then they both look at it through the characters they’re reading about so they’re reading The Odyssey and did Odysseus have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and then they’re thinking about their own actual work throughout the year I want to circle back for a moment to this dichotomy between moral character and performance character though because I think it’s interesting and I think that while they are in fact distinct they ain’t one informs the other oftentimes for example when we are talking about curiosity we use the phrase mastery learning we are working with an organization called challenge success out of Stanford and they talk about mastery learning versus performance learning and they’re using performance in a different way performance as in did you get an A versus mastery is and were you engaged simply for the sake of learning and so a mastery learning really correlates to to curiosity and grit as well mastery learners cheat far less than performance learners mastery learners are actually interested in learning and they recognize if they get the answers from somebody else they won’t ever understand what it was that they were going about so these two things actually tie together and there are ways that I’m similarly kids who are empathic or who learn about some of the different challenges that the kids in their classrooms are bringing to school with them are much better at forming collaborative groups with people who are different and so one of those might be viewed as a moral skill but it actually then can segue into a very effective I would argue performance skill III I totally agree with you and I’m not like

anti integrity ba but you know I mean to be honest having got up in front of kids a lot and said you know talked about and will hurt even adults talking about kids and says no that couldn’t have any integrity or that kid a lot of integrity I’m like well actually could you really define it for me because I don’t honestly know what that means and I think the thing is is that that’s that’s I mean I’m not saying I think probably the people that are brighter than I am more informed than I that might be a really define it well and certainly the Greeks were able to do that I think probably better than I can but we really tried to focus in on things that you could actually sort of really observe in kids and we’re not not so morally balanced I mean you know I think the thing is is even things like respects I mean it’s very different if you’ve traveled the world to see different people show respect or have different ways that they show respect and when you’ve got a diverse student body that plays out in sort of really odd ways at times of people feeling they’re not being respected by a kid because he’s not looking the teacher in the eye or not so we tried to try and figure out things that would get us less into those sort of thorny moral issues but you know I mean that is I’m not saying that I’m anti morality but we did try and want to make it really concrete and tangible and for both the teachers and the students and also the parents as well one of the things that I found interesting about reporting at Riverdale is that dominic recommend that is not a settled question at and then I think among it’s in fact a big debate and a really interesting one and among a lot of teachers parents I think there there is this feeling that that the more the stuff that’s on the moral character side is more important that’s what we should be doing I mean I think we tend to I mean I think a lot of what my faculty tend to revert to that that’s the sort of status quo that we’re talking about honesty and and I don’t think we’re really clear with the kids on what it means to be honest I mean you know we have we have you know I’ll be blunt I mean I think that you know it’s pretty pathetic when there’s a lot of educators who are talking about plagiarism and you know we put key notes and all sorts of stuff up with none of the credits marked on where we got this just filters off the internet and so the thing is is it’s sort of an interesting thing about how are you living your these type of character strengths or even your morality within a school when we talk about college completion rates which is a concern how do you see this kind of education in improving what is really a national crisis of completion rights so and I hadn’t really understood the data on completion rates until I started working on this book pretty shocking it is shocking and and I think that that you know for a long time the people who were interested in college as an issue were very focused on getting kids to college and certainly people who were focused on low-income kids and and Kipp you know when Kipp started it was all about getting kids to college with the assumption that once kids got to college they they wouldn’t drop out and the place where the United States really differs from other countries we’ve been overtaken in terms of our college graduation rate and that is not so much about our the number of kids going to college it’s about the number of kids who graduate from college once they start we have the highest called a dropout rate in the world and and the research that’s out there is that so getting to college might not necessarily take a lot of non-cognitive skills you can get to college you can get through high school with just sort of sitting in your seat and doing the right thing and doing well on tests once you get to college you need a very different set of skills and the high schools that we have right now are in many cases not preparing kids with those with that set of skills and so I think this is a new and really important question it’s one that has national implications because if we want to increase our college graduation rate which i think we do the answer is not getting more kids to college it’s getting more kids through college and interestingly I would argue that this is an issue not just among low-income kids but among a fluent kids as well I my best friend teaches at Stanford and recently he at the end of the semester was handing back final papers and there were students sort of milling around the podium and a student walked up to him and handed him a cellphone and he said what’s this way and she said somebody needs to talk to you and it was the child’s mother who was concerned about the grade on the paper this is a true story and so you have kids who you have this massive spike in treatment for anxiety and depression on college campuses across the country and part of that is how does one learn to effectively advocate for oneself and how does one feel like they’re ultimately in control of their learning rather than just being you know guided through the

learning process I want to bring in the audience we do have microphones and so please become engaged and raise your hands and identify yourself and wait for the mic if you can yes right up front to hear thank you thank you Ellen Galinsky and I spent the last 11 years looking at the research on this zero to eight spectrum of these issues I want to push back really strongly about the notion of these are non cognitive what there is or there a series of studies that longitudinal studies that show that if you promote these characteristics or these I call them life skills when children are young that they help them thrive now and help them thrive later and they all involve executive functions of the brain which is the prefrontal cortex the part of the brain that brings together our social emotional and cognitive capacities and enables us to use what we know just what what you all have been saying you even take the notion of the marshmallow test which you talked about what Walter Mischel is doing now with the marshmallow test is that he’s teaching children cognitive strategies to delay gratification so I think that we’re going to get into an either/or debate that’s not terribly useful cognitive versus non cognitive even like the moral versus character kind of a discussion if we can understand that these are social-emotional and Hobbiton skills the researchers who do brain mapping and who look at perspective taking which you’ve all been talking about not understanding how other people think and feel find that the part of the brains that are involved in cognition as well as social relationships are involved so I just would love your reaction to the non cognitive skill notion is it a matter of language do we not have the the vocabulary define what we’re talking about I think that’s part of it so and when I was saying that you know psychologists get upset about when you use non cognitive skills I was talking how about you I think I’m talking to you Ellen hey and and you’re quite right and and I think and and so executive functions I think is another really important word in this and and I think executive functions and non-cognitive skills and character strengths are all in the same universe and there’s slightly different and sometimes they’re contradictory so yeah we don’t have a great language for talking about this I think all three of those are useful terms in a certain way but I do think that there that it’s useful to think that there’s about skills that are different than IQ that skills that are different than than sort of that strict cognition and so finding the right language yes as I wrote my book was a big struggle and I’m sure you’ve found it in your writing as well and and more clarity in the research and more clarity in the writing would certainly help it’s such a good question certainly I see it as like a holistic thing I mean we’re not saying to teachers here are cognitive strengths here are non cognitive strengths I mean we are saying these just we need to be a bit more intentional than giving feedback around these types of strengths in order to actually help kids become better students and then live better lives that’s also it’s seen very much from my perspective and Walter has been very informed has informed some of this and there’s been really great Ally and thinking about how do you put it into a school setting son yes over there the window thank you Don Sparrow Bethesda Maryland Russell my wife Nancy and I are lucky to be parents of GDS graduates I have a question for you but first to comment for dominic we were here last week and someone sitting in the same chair you are Craig Robinson answered perhaps your question about how to define morality he said he learned from his mother that it was some what you did when no one was watching so you can think about that from Craig Hughes it my question for Rosalyn maybe others is to what extent I mean the if school is obviously advanced great deals in the 12 years since our kids were there and graduated to what extent are you measuring the methodologies you’re introducing by actually tracking results from graduates more than anecdotally which I know you do pretty well that way but are you actually developing any data in that direction it’s a great question and I think it’s something that our schools have historically done a really poor job of we are beginning to to put together longitudinal surveys of our alumni and it’s going to take a while before we have any meaningful data for that but we know we need to start by asking the questions so thus far it’s been focus groups it’s been conversations and and I think that all of our schools want to be paying attention not just to how our kids do you know the two and three years after they finish school but 10 or 15 years after they finished school would you give us an example of how you

teach kids to be gritty and cess T because maybe some of us could take advantage of it um well I mean I’ll give you sort of I mean again I don’t think I’m not saying like we’ve got all these wonderful answers I mean so we haven’t not figured this out I mean we’ve started this work for eight three four years and we’re gonna continue hopefully if we get things sort of funded for the next phase of this with some research around it we’ll learn more about into the actual interventions but you know I we this guy David Rockwell invented this interesting playground called imagination playground right which is basically these big blue foam blocks right that you play around with Fulton fish market there’s down South Sea Street board in New York got one New York’s got one and you know famously he sort of said there are no instructions and it was interesting to see a group of really you know the young kids I mean I think they were sort of kindergarteners first graders when they saw these blocks basically their first sort of view was looking to the teacher to say where are the instructions I mean how do we play with these and when they were told just to sort of like play with it they really go at it and it’s really interesting but then the question is what is the woody the level do you have to come in as a teacher and interfere with that and I think it’s the same sort of model for parents it’s like when do you come in with your kids and say okay something has to change here or something has to and I think that we’re learning and talking about what is the level when you swing a faculty member has to say okay I need to support this kid because they do think that’s linked to grip you know it’s the same thing for an 11th grader when they’re doing difficult math problems when does the teacher say okay you know you over there you’ve got the brute you’ve got the right answer to tell this kid the answer I mean how long do you allow kids to sort of persevere and struggle with something and I think we’re learning to think more about that than we maybe did in the past but I don’t think we’ve got the answers to how you do it but thinking about persistence I think is an interesting question in our school systems right now I I want to agree that a lot of a lot of the work is with faculty we use the phrase productive struggle and when we’re watching kids one of the hardest things for teachers is actually knowing how to back off that not to jump in too soon but let a child struggle with a problem another very important thing that as adults as teachers and as parents we do is we frame kids experiences in really powerful ways we know that we do this when they’re toddlers if you’ve ever had a child running on the driveway and they fall the first thing they do is they turn to look at you to see if they’re hurt and if you say then they start to cry and if you smile and say you’re okay then they pop up and they keep walking so we know that and we have that experience but as kids grow up we forget that we forget that we frame their experiences and so when a child encounters trouble and the first thing that the parent does is don’t worry I’m going to call legal counsel then that’s sending one message to that child about what you do when you encounter difficulty in life versus gee it seems like you screwed up what are you going to do and empowering the child to think critically about that and feel like actually I’m ultimately responsible and ad ultimately I can be resilient and come up with some good solutions for this problem if I could just sort of channels Dave Levin in and what I think he would do say in response to that question I think he would talk about the character a report card so this is what what at Kipp the character report card is much more of a real concrete document than four times a year kids get their character report card and they get numbers on each of these on each of these traits and it started I’ve being called the character report card he’s changed it to the character growth card and I think what it really is as a character conversation card and that that’s what he doesn’t think that you know kids should fail and have to repeat a year if they don’t get high grit and zest scores but he thinks that by having this as a document that at report card night you’re sitting there with your if you’re a child you’re sitting there with your parent and you or teacher and everyone’s talking about your zest he thinks that that itself is really powerful and I think there’s there’s lots of evidence about that if you’re that tells you this is something that the adults around me care about it’s something that I can change something I can work on and so just that alone and I think he thinks will help teach those skills can I just add one small thing so we had students rate themselves one through five on each one of those behaviors on the side on the side of that thing are each of the strengths their teachers did the same blind and had discussions the teachers

we didn’t share this with the parents we just allowed the teachers to see the differences between the ratings on those different behaviors because I think a lot of this is sometimes we delude ourselves to thinking like we’re really the most energetic person in the world and when you ask the people around you they may not find that you’re quite as energetic as you think you are so that actually those types of discussions around differences even with the teachers and evaluating teachers it’s been interesting to see their differences on how they view themselves in regard to these strengths yes Harvard Graduate School of Education I have a very direct question for Dominic do you think moral character can be taught and I’m going to give you a multiple choice you could say it was born something important I was mentioned earlier right you could say well you get it from family or religion right and to sharpen the the question let’s say people who went to Riverdale in 20 years were running and run and they had all of these skills would you say well we succeeded would you say well we failed but it wasn’t the school’s problem would you say we need to rethink what we’re doing with these characters right traits Thanks so I don’t think it’s either all to be honest I mean I think we’re working on these character strengths on one side I also think you need to have let’s say ethics I mean we do teach ethics very clearly throughout our whole curriculum it’s actually been sort of a strength of the school so I actually don’t don’t deny that you can teach I think you can teach moral character I guess what I was what I was more concerned with and sort of so I think we actually do try and get kids to be more respectful more honest understand their interactions be more empathetic with others but what I thought was missing is actually more in regard to the academic program and I think this is where this work is more focused on supplying some means towards getting kids to be successful on the academic side of things so I don’t think it’s necessarily an either/or I’m sorry maybe I was a bit provocative on that I don’t necessarily believe I mean I just think sometimes people’s eyes do glaze over though when I think you talk about honesty and I think it’s very very differently interpreted depending on where and who you’re where you’re coming from and who you are David Brooks and you started to allude to it Dominic I think a little bit about the impact of culturally informed character traits and we control that place and I just bring to you a real challenge I’ve come to deeply believe that character education is critical for kids and yet kind of come again up against this issue of how to make it inclusive of multiple cultural and racial perspectives I think of just two comments that kind of left me speechless one coming out of being in a Kipp school for quite some time and observing over a number of days with my colleagues of color and they just said oh they’re teaching these kids how to blend in with rich white folks and I was like okay and then I bring to you a second moment in a Kipp school as well where an african-american boy was not allowed to wear the Kipp t-shirt because his character had not been worthy of what Kipp character is supposed to represented so we get to wear a different outfit and so I just sat with him for a while and tried to understand it he’s like it’s just really hard for me because when I’m loud or too loud or if I ever interrupt or if I act like myself or my mom I have a bad character so how do you teach character without kind of developing self loathing or loathing of identity or family at home or so in Dave Levin’s absence I’ll do my best to represent what what he said to me about what’s going on at Kipp I think in some ways what I think you might have been seeing at Kipp is a change in culture that that’s going on there so before the character report card came along there was this idea that still existed Kipp schools of slant and if it certain ways of sitting tracking the teacher with your eyes paying attention and what Dave Levin and and Mike van Berg when they started Kipp believed was that a lot of the kids they were

teaching needed help with some of these arguably cultural ideas about how to pay attention how to behave in school it’s connected with the idea of code-switching which i think is something that a lot of teachers believe and something i think a lot of people believe that when you’re growing up in a non dominant culture if you want to fit in in the dominant culture you need to learn how to fake it at the very least if not actually take on those traits but I think that in lots of ways the character report card is trying to supplant those ideas that that that those ideas I think often do seem very culturally defined and some ways they are culturally defined in some ways they are about fitting in with a different culture and it is very hard on kids very often I think those things can be taught in a sensitive and intelligent way but but I know there’s lots of painful moments in all of those schools as a result and I think by trying to focus on these less culturally determined ideas like social intelligence like self-control I think that you know what Marty Seligman and Chris Peterson in the book that affected Dominic and Dave wrote was that these are not at all cultural these are the character strengths that work in every culture at every era of history and so in teaching you to use students to get better at these this is something that has nothing to do with with our culture and your culture it’s a trial and error process and it doesn’t always work and it’s still I think leads to painful conversations but I think that what they’re trying to do is get better at that I think they’re trying to get better at finding ways to help kids learn these skills learn these ways of fitting into cultures that they’re not familiar with without it being an attack on them I think there’s just two points I just like to make one I think this is actually validates some kids experience we’ve had really really difficult lives and ever learnt some of these skills on their own really very much on their own and that isn’t validated by SAT scores and I think we need to balance out the idea that the essay I’m not I’m not sure I think the SATs is important but I think this these type of skills and capacities are also important and need to be validated I’ve worked with kids who had incredibly low testing and yet have turned out to be incredibly brilliant students who’ve gone on and been incredibly successful so you know I think we’ve got to validate that type of course through our systems the other thing is is I think character and I think cappers has is having dialogue around this character can also be a sense of compliance and I don’t think you know we want to bring up our generation thinking that you have to be compliant that’s actually I don’t think that’s very good at all and I think some of these things the idea of showing curiosity the idea of sort of saying okay you can be zesty and you may not be compliant at that point is a way of pushing back on the idea of character as compliance or sort of behavior can I add one other point which is Paul talked about code-switching and in a diverse school setting like ours typically the kids of color are met much better at code-switching than the white kids because they’ve actually had to learn how to engage and be successful in different environments and as the dominant culture becomes a less dominant culture in this country maybe even globally I think it’s gonna be increasingly incumbent on people who are gonna be able to have an impact in the world to be able to do more of that code switching or understand where other people’s experience what that brings to the table the one other thing I would say is we share a lot of research with our kids as a way of informing their learning and one of the things we talk about a stereotype threat which is that as kids of color and women typically perform this is Claude Steele’s research a lot worse on standardized tests than white students because of all of the societal messages that they have received around their own performance and one of the things that you can do to mitigate stereotype threat is you can teach about it and kids who have learned about that actually will end up performing better and so I think there’s a responsibility in all of our schools to think very critically about what are the things that are getting in kids ways and how can we remove some of those David they have this gigantic fear I guess I would make two comments if you define the things we’ve been talking about is character the first thing you do is you give permission to students who are

already before professionalized it’s become extremely smug about that attitude they do not need more encouragement you’re really good at that and the second thing I think it’s perfect it’s scientifically sort of incomplete that the stuff you quote about Michele and all that is true but Jonathan heights were Jesse Graham all this other work suggests that Moral Sentiments are not detachable from anything else and that kids will not work hard really in the way we want them to unless they feel it is toward righteousness and toward themselves as good people and so if you don’t envelop explicit character talk into education you’re really not getting the kind of learning you want and then the final distinction I draw is that character usually involves self-sacrifice and that’s the opposite of what we’ve been hearing about for the last hour and that I would say what you’re talking about our life skills which are important but they’re not KarenT I’ve read various David Brooks columns over the last few months I found myself wondering about the distinction between moral character and performance character and and and having some of the same concerns that you’re describing I think some of this comes out of the fact that in this previous generation of character education I feel like schools tried to teach moral character and I think they didn’t do a good job I don’t think we I don’t think we have I don’t know anyone who’s figured out how to in a replicable way use schools to teach moral character and and when the National Center on Education Statistics studied seven of the big existing character education programs they found they did nothing they hadn’t they had and these are the ones that are trying to teach moral character they had they had no effect on the way schools work the way kids thought the way that how well kids daily in school and so I think partly it’s it is and I a question of what we can do with schools or at least what we can do in a replicable way I agree absolutely when I think about you know my own son or when I think about the kids who go I’m reporting on I don’t want them to be immoral or amoral at all I absolutely think that those skills are important for success but I do think that there’s something in this idea and for me it’s especially with low-income kids of teaching these character strengths non cognitive skills these these skills that I that are especially for these low-income kids gonna be absolutely necessary for them to succeed the way that I want them to succeed and their teachers who want them to succeed I think there’s something very valuable that looking at those as a set of skills and and in lots of ways because of the cultural differences sometimes in these schools separating those from morality at least in that conversation I think can be really valuable and David as a tuition paying parent I want to say that I thought everything you said was brilliant and I couldn’t have said it better myself and we’re happy to extend the turning date for the Annual Fund so I do think that these are skills and capacities and I call them skills and capacities that are about how do we empower kids to go out and have an impact in the world in a world that needs their impact and for us it’s placing kids in a context and in a story of you inherited this legacy of a school which was about social justice what does it mean to go out and have an impact in the world that you are moving into as a citizen and so I agree that if this is all about you know the organization kid and how do you how do you best navigate the bureaucracy in order to advance your own interests than what are we doing it’s got to be about how do you be effective and anybody who’s going to try to make an impact in the world it’s gonna encounter obstacles and they’re gonna have to learn how to navigate those but it has to be to some end it can’t just be to advance to the end of learning of being a better student I think you know is the challenge I mean we’re trying to educate people to be better people and to acquire knowledge that is useful in society yeah I guess sometimes I think we talk on a moral level that is just unreachable it’s very very hard to figure out like how do you get the means to be let’s say a really honest person that’s that’s got wonderful integrity that the person that you see is the person that’s privately the same person but I think for a lot of us it’s really difficult to think of what steps do you take to do that and I don’t think the culture I actually would disagree with you I don’t think the culture or the corporations or the sort of organization person is actually very related to these strengths right now I don’t see a lot of self-control out there I don’t see a lot of zest I don’t see a lot of optimism

necessarily I see let’s say a lot of people telling us how terrible the world is and there’s not going to be much of a solution to it so I think for a lot of us we need to know like are there sort of mini steps that you can take I think if you can start being more self-controlled in your life actually that allows you to open up to much bigger questions about human nature and how humans work and the dignity of dignity of human kind and these bit much bigger moral questions so I don’t I guess I don’t necessarily want to be too much about sort of differentiating I think in the in a culture of a school they are all together and they’re shoved all together but I don’t think we’ve given people enough of the sort of mini steps of how do you sort of live the good life in a small way I mean it really is towards living a meaningful and purposeful life but how do you start that tomorrow rather than talking that these terms are a very very lofty level which I think a lot of kids and a lot of adults don’t even can’t really comprehend and don’t know how to actually implement it we have to conclude what has been I think a very gritty conversation and I want to thank Paul talk shameless plug the book is coming out next month and Russell Shaw and Dominic Randolph and I think you work very well channeled Dave Levin and the Kipp schools as well he participated de-facto