Thrivers Book Summary - Thrivers Book explained in key points
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Thrivers summary

Michele Borba

The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine

4.4 (202 ratings)
25 mins
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    Thrivers
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    We need to teach kids more than how to pass exams.

    What is it like to be a kid today?

    That’s exactly the question the author asked tweens and teens across the United States in a series of focus groups. Unfortunately, their answers paint a picture of a generation in crisis.

    According to them, there’s no time for friends, hobbies, or just being a kid between schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and social media. They spend less time hanging out with one another and more time cultivating a picture-perfect version of themselves online. Expectations are sky-high and they’re worried about failing to meet them. In short, they’re lonely and stressed.

    The key message in this blink is: We need to teach kids more than how to pass exams.

    During one focus group, the author talked to middle-school students in Boston. A boy named Aiden listened thoughtfully as his classmates chatted about their lives. When he finally spoke, he pointed at a game lying on a nearby table with an incomplete wooden puzzle on its cover. “That puzzle is us,” he said: “We’re trying to fit into the world but can’t because we’re missing pieces.”

    But, which pieces are missing?

    Well, look at the situation from these kids’ point of view. They exist in a hyper-competitive environment where success is all about striving for more: better grades, greater accolades, more likes on social media. Whatever the achievement, it’s always linked to a struggle for recognition that pits children against their peers. No wonder kids are stressed!

    Unsurprisingly, lots of adolescents feel the same way as Aiden – that kids are being raised to be “products” and the things that make us human just aren’t being taught. Things like how to be a person, or get along with others, handle mistakes, and cope with stress.

    The missing piece, it turns out, is character – that bundle of qualities like self-confidence, perseverance, empathy, and creativity which allows us to navigate the setbacks and uncertainties of the adult world. If we’re only teaching our kids to strive and pass exams, we’re setting them up for a fall once they enter the world. That’s the last thing we want. The goal, after all, isn’t to create a generation of high-achievers who burn out before they’re even eligible to vote – it’s to foster healthy, happy people.

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    What is Thrivers about?

    Thrivers (2021) is a study of what it means to be a child in today’s fast-paced, ultra-competitive, and digital world. Kids are achieving more and more, but they’ve never felt so lonely and stressed. In our rush to prepare them for an uncertain future, we’ve taught them to strive for accolades but forgotten that there’s more to success – and happiness – than test scores and grades. What’s missing is an emphasis on helping them thrive.

    Best quote from Thrivers

    Real self-confidence is an outcome of doing well, facing obstacles, creating solutions, and snapping back on your own.

    —Michele Borba
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    Who should read Thrivers?

    • Parents worried about their kids’ futures
    • Teachers on the frontlines of our burnout-inducing education system
    • Psychologists interested in child development

    About the Author

    Michele Borba is an educational psychologist and best-selling author with over 40 years of experience helping parents and their children. She’s also written UnSelfie, a study of empathy in an age of egocentric social media, and is a regular contributor to TV shows including Today, Dateline, The View, Dr. Phil, NBC Nightly News, Fox & Friends, Dr. Oz, and The Early Show.

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