Confused about the term “long-term flourishing?” Let's clear it up in about 300 words.
Long-term flourishing is the real purpose of schooling. It's what every educator and parent on the planet hopes for their children. Long-term because we love the child not just for today or this year, but also in 20 years; flourishing because we know there are many viable paths to a useful, rich life.
How does long-term flourishing relate to standardized tests?
The American obsession with standardized testing is built on what Paul Tough calls the “cognitive theory:” the flawed yet popular belief that IQ matters most in the successful development of a child.
Quality standardized tests do measure part of what it takes to flourish in the long-term. Content knowledge and academic skills are often indispensable when building a flourishing life. But the bigger picture includes self-control and purpose, effective help-seeking and ownership of learning (Dr. David Conley calls these “success skills,” Character Lab calls them “character strengths,” and Dr. James Heckman calls them “noncognitive skills”).
How do we work toward the long-term flourishing of children?
- Provide students with repeated, rich opportunities to work on both intellectual and character growth (“dual-purpose” classrooms).
- Begin studying the science of success: start at my character page or Character Lab's resource page (both free).
- Refuse to freak out about high-stakes tests; use them for what they are worth, but don't tie your identity to their results.
- Be teachable. Learn from folks inside and outside of education because success is not the sole territory of schools.
How do we measure long-term flourishing?
I think it would be fascinating if schools were given the chance to follow-up with students one year, five years, and ten years after they leave. How do former students fare in the job market? In creating families? In achieving their aspirations?
Is that all?
Yep! Don't over-complicate long-term flourishing. It should be simple, and it is the definition of impact.