AUDIO

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential

. 9781452608853. Tough, Paul. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. 7 CDs. library/retail eds. unabridged. 8 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452608143. $29.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. PSYCH
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The audio version of 2009's Smart but Scattered by the coauthors of Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents posits that the reason that intelligent, motivated youngsters succeed at certain things (e.g., soccer) but struggle with others (e.g., cleaning their rooms) relates to executive function—those cognitive processes that regulate delayed gratification, planning, working memory, and more. Embedded PDFs contain diagnostic components to help parents assess any lopsidedness in their children's executive functions; once problems are identified and placed within the rubric of the parents' own cognitive skills, realistic expectations can be put into play. Susan Ericksen provides a clear, sympathetic reading.The concerned Tough presents a condensation of the issues facing contemporary American educators. Though the material is well written, listeners will soon tire of track after track of different schools' innovations and approaches. Tough recounts the struggles and achievements of giant school systems (e.g., Chicago's), elite institutions, and innovators like YAP (Youth Advocate Programs), which creates "substitute or supplemental family structures for children who don't have them." Other than advocating attachment parenting, Tough's focus is more on research and funding, obscuring identification of ways parents can help children to develop the titular grit and character. Dan John Miller provides an effective reading.
VERDICT Dawson and Guare's interesting work attempts to strike a balance between providing informational background and acting as a how-to manual; the result is not enough of either. This title is best suited to motivated, college-educated readers. Listeners interested in a survey course about the plight of the educational system can do no better than Tough's book, but caveat emptor—it is not a how-to volume.

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