April 24, 2014 by MARCO TORRES

A child grows in our society conditioned to believe that happiness is perpetually postponed for tomorrow. Their hope and vision is confined to living within society’s expectations and standards of the future where happiness exists in promises. They must pass every grade and go on to the next level and then the next until they are considered worthy of achievement with all their fancy diplomas and degrees, because without this, how could they possibly be prepared to enter the workforce right? That’s precisely where we are failing children. We are not fostering social and emotional intelligence which are the most significant predictors of success in the real world.

IQ, college and university degrees, and actually all mainstream education only accounts for about 20% of a person’s success and that percentage is only decreasing every year. We have a growing population of children who are not coping well with conventional education because we continue to force them to respond to templates. We force children into templated education where each child must learn the same way and be punished if they do not respond.

They must obtain this kind of education throughout the years to climb the ladder of success, achieve promotions, and eventually buy more expensive pleasures in their cars, houses and material possessions. We hopelessly identify all children in this manner and that they must fit into this template to be successful. This also alienates them into an endless expectation of the future, thereby conditioning them to never appreciate their own magnificence, creativity and innate sense of who they really are, only what society has defined them to be.

In previous studies, both teachers and researchers have suggested that a number of factors including poor academic skills, difficulties following directions and a lack of social skills are an impediment to school readiness and later success. Because of this, some experts have suggested that early childhood education should focus on building behavioral, social and emotional skills just as much as building academic skills.

However, hope is often overlooked. Trumping general intelligence, previous academic achievement and personality, hope “uniquely predicts objective academic achievement,” shows a three-year longitudinal study out of the University of Manchester.

Fear of failure breeds inaction and hopelessness. It’s a vicious cycle. If you lack hope, you will fear failure. If you fear failure, you will never act. If you never act, you will never succeed. And if you never succeed, you will never develop a positive mindet and hope for the best.

The study followed 129 students as they entered university, measuring their pre-university grades and their final degree marks. Researchers tracked specific traits over the three-year term: trait hope — an individual’s general or characteristic level of hope — general intelligence, the five-factor model of personality, divergent thinking, and objective measures of their academic performance.

This research suggests a reevaluation of current educational practices are in order to effectuate change and enhance the lives of students.

This study isn’t the first to make the hope-achievement connection.

A similar study out of Indianapolis, titled “Hope, but not optimism, predicts academic performance of law students beyond previous academic achievement” followed “initial levels of hope and optimism with subsequent academic performance and life satisfaction among first-year law students“. These two discovered that hope, rather than optimism, predicted academic performance, while both hope and optimism contributed to life satisfaction.

“Improved social and character skills leave more time for teachers to teach, and students to learn and be more motivated,” said Brian Flay, an OSU professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. “What we’re finding now is that we can really address some of the concerns in our schools by focusing more on character in the classroom.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

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