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Exam success is determined by 'mental toughness' and not intelligence

Is it the case that those who are less able will be less successful? According to Dr Clough of the University of Hull, this will be true if pupils are taught to talk about their emotions at the expense of learning. However, if schools focus more on resilience and setting an ethos which encourages people to overcome setbacks and try new ways of doing things when stuck, then children with less ability can exceed expectations and achieve more.

Dr Clough is one of the most recent critics of the SEAL approach being implemented throughout English schools. He acknowledges that there is an immediate need to tackle resilience issues which seem to interfere with young people?s learning and success.  However teaching happiness, or boosting self-esteem, will only worsen the problem as young people will not learn how to overcome setbacks if the aim is to feel good. Also this approach mollycoddles students and makes them feel that they can?t cope with the knocks and blows of life.

His recent work has looked at informing teachers, parents and students on what techniques can help young people to bounce back after setbacks. Of course, not all young people are vulnerable to this; however Clough suggests that the problem may be exaggerated by things such as celebrity culture with its emphasis on instant success over hard work, effort and resilience.  Intelligence does not necessarily predict a young person's success, and what he is saying is that people can learn to adopt a mindset which will help them, and others succeed.  And as Clough say?s ?all the positive thinking in the world isn?t going to make a third look like a 2:1?.  To read the article click here


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