We Can Do Better. A Lot Better.
“Here’s a basic truth about American colleges: Rich kids complete their degrees; poor and working-class kids usually don’t.” – The New York Times Magazine, May 15, 2014.
This unacceptable observation graced the cover of the NYT magazine. The piece, by Paul Tough, a renowned education writer, captured much of what’s wrong with education in America today. Tough writes that “whether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on one factor—how much money his or her parents make.”
Why is this so?
Tough and highly respected researchers at Stanford and University of Texas posit that low-income students often don’t make it for the following interrelated reasons:
– Lack of academic identity – the belief that one deserves to be in a high-performing academic community.
– Interpretation of temporary, fixable setbacks as indicative of lack of ability.
– Lack of a growth mindset – the belief that intelligence is malleable and can grow with effort and practice.
OnePurpose: Force For Change
OnePurpose School is about turning that basic truth about college completion on its head. It’s about giving children of every socioeconomic class an opportunity to complete college.
What is breakthrough in OnePurpose’s approach is developing a growth mindset when minds are being formed – as early as kindergarten. As a nation, we simply can’t wait until the sophomore year of high school to start that process. It has to start early.
That’s why our K-5 program focuses intensively on the solutions Paul Tough espouses: Cultivating a powerful growth mindset and the ability to persist through failure.
10 essential elements gird OnePurpose’s curriculum. One of them, similarly articulated by Tough, is “Purposeful teaching of attitudes and personal qualities critical for college success: grit, growth mindset, academic identity, curiosity, self-control, and responsibility.” Here’s what this looks like in practice:
– Consciously investing the time and resources necessary to build deep relationships with students and families such that students and families trust OnePurpose.
– Focusing on what students do know, versus what they don’t.
– Once students have gained confidence, giving them the opportunity to take chances in a risk-free environment.
– Instilling the idea that mistakes can be beautiful because if we do things right, mistakes and persistence are the best teachers.
– Steadily increasing academic rigor such that students are on grade level by 3rd grade and ahead of grade level by 9th grade.
– Teaching higher-order thinking skills from Day One.
– Explicitly sending the message that with a growth mindset and grit they WILL graduate from college.
Read Tough’s excellent article. It explains why small interventions about growth mindset and grit in college have a huge impact on low-income students. Then imagine the possibilities for OnePurpose students benefiting from a curriculum that fosters a growth mindset and grit from Day One.
Imagine when a 4-year-old gets that kind of start in life.