角色工厂
The Character Factory
758字
2021-03-03 22:16
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火星译客

Nearly every parent on earth operates on the assumption that character matters a lot to the life outcomes of their children. Nearly every government antipoverty program operates on the assumption that it doesn’t.

世界上几乎所有的父母在养育孩子时,都会认为品格对孩子的人生成就有很大的作用。但几乎所有对抗贫困的政府项目都不这么想。

Most Democratic antipoverty programs consist of transferring money, providing jobs or otherwise addressing the material deprivation of the poor. Most Republican antipoverty programs likewise consist of adjusting the economic incentives or regulatory barriers faced by the disadvantaged.

民主党对抗贫困的项目,多数都涉及转移资金、提供就业,或者以其他方式应对穷人面对的物质匮乏。同样,共和党对抗贫困的项目,也多数涉及调节经济激励手段或者调节弱势群体面对的监管障碍。

As Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution pointed out recently in National Affairs, both orthodox progressive and conservative approaches treat individuals as if they were abstractions — as if they were part of a species of “hollow man” whose destiny is shaped by economic structures alone, and not by character and behavior.

布鲁金斯学会(Brookings Institution)的理查德·里夫斯(Richard Reeves)最近在《国家事务》(National Affairs)上指出,进步派和保守派的常规路径,都仿佛把个人当成了抽象概念,仿佛他们属于一个叫作“肤浅人”的物种,他们的命运只由经济结构塑造,而不受品格和行为影响。

It’s easy to understand why policy makers would skirt the issue of character. Nobody wants to be seen blaming the victim — spreading the calumny that the poor are that way because they don’t love their children enough, or don’t have good values. Furthermore, most sensible people wonder if government can do anything to alter character anyway.

很容易理解政策制定者为什么会对品格的问题避而不谈。没人愿意被人发现自己在谴责受害者,宣扬对他们的批评:穷人之所以变成这个样子,是因为他们不够爱孩子,或者没有良好的价值观。更何况,多数理智的人也会认为,政府本就做不来什么改变人的品格的事情。

The problem is that policies that ignore character and behavior have produced disappointing results. Social research over the last decade or so has reinforced the point that would have been self-evident in any other era — that if you can’t help people become more resilient, conscientious or prudent, then all the cash transfers in the world will not produce permanent benefits.

问题在于,那些忽略人格和行为的政策,产生的效果令人失望。过去10年左右的时间里的社会学研究,更加印证了一种在其他领域可能不言自明的道理——如果不能帮助人变得更坚韧、勤勉、谨慎,那么全世界所有的转移资金,都不能产生持久的效果。

Walter Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiment demonstrated that delayed gratification skills learned by age 4 produce important benefits into adulthood. Carol Dweck’s work has shown that people who have a growth mind-set — who believe their basic qualities can be developed through hard work — do better than people who believe their basic talents are fixed and innate. Angela Duckworth has shown how important grit and perseverance are to lifetime outcomes. College students who report that they finish whatever they begin have higher grades than their peers, even ones with higher SATs. Spelling bee contestants who scored significantly higher on grit scores were 41 percent more likely to advance to later rounds than less resilient competitors. 

沃尔特·米切尔(Walter Mischel)著名的“棉花糖实验”显示出,4岁时学到的“延迟满足”技能,到成年后能产生重要的收益。卡罗尔·徳韦克(Carol Dweck)的研究表明,有“成长心态”(growth mind-set)的人,也就是认为自己的基本素质能在努力中得到发展的人,比那些认为基本才能是内在的固定属性的人,境遇更好。安吉拉·杜克沃斯(Angela Duckworth)的研究表明,坚持和毅力对于终生的成就有多么重要。自称能对自己手上的随便什么事情善始善终的大学生,成绩优于同龄人,甚至优于SAT分数更高的同学。单词拼写竞赛里,拿到的“毅力分”明显更高的参赛选手,晋级的可能性比没那么坚毅的对手大41%。

Summarizing the research in this area, Reeves estimates that measures of drive and self-control influence academic achievement roughly as much as cognitive skills. Recent research has also shown that there are very different levels of self-control up and down the income scale. Poorer children grow up with more stress and more disruption, and these disadvantages produce effects on the brain. Researchers often use dull tests to see who can focus attention and stay on task. Children raised in the top income quintile were two-and-a-half times more likely to score well on these tests than students raised in the bottom quintile.

通过总结这一领域的研究成果,里夫斯估计,自我驱动力和自制力对学业成绩的影响,与认知能力基本相当。最近的研究也显示,在不同的收入水平之间,自控力的差异也十分巨大。贫穷的孩子成长过程中心理负担较重,受到的干扰也较多,而这些不利因素会对大脑产生影响。研究人员通常会使用枯燥的测验来检验谁能集中注意力,专注于眼前的任务。在收入水平处于前五分之一的家庭里长大的孩子们,与收入水平处于最后五分之一的家庭养育的孩子相比,前者在这种测验中取得好成绩的可能性,是后者的2.5倍。

But these effects are reversible with the proper experiences.

但如果有适当的经验,这些效应是可以扭转的。

People who have studied character development through the ages have generally found hectoring lectures don’t help. The superficial “character education” programs implanted into some schools of late haven’t done much either. Instead, sages over years have generally found at least four effective avenues to make it easier to climb. Government-supported programs can contribute in all realms.

多年来,研究性格发展的人们大都发现,声色俱厉的说教没有作用。最近某些学校开设的流于表面的“品格教育”课程并没有起到多大帮助。智者们在漫长的历史中,总体上找到了至少四项有效的路径,可以让攀登的过程更加容易。政府支持的项目在所有领域中都能起到帮助。

First, habits. If you can change behavior you eventually change disposition. People who practice small acts of self-control find it easier to perform big acts in times of crisis. Quality preschools, K.I.P.P. schools and parenting coaches have produced lasting effects by encouraging young parents and students to observe basic etiquette and practice small but regular acts of self-restraint.

第一,习惯。如果你能改变行为,最终就能改变秉性。能在小事上做到自控的人也会发现,面临危机时,在大事上也更容易自控。高质量的学前教育、KIPP预科学校,以及育儿指导,通过鼓励年轻的父母和学生们遵守基本的礼节,经常进行微小的自我节制,已经产生了持久的效果。

Second, opportunity. Maybe you can practice self-discipline through iron willpower. But most of us can only deny short-term pleasures because we see a realistic path between self-denial now and something better down the road. Young women who see affordable college prospects ahead are much less likely to become teen moms.

第二,机遇。或许你可以通过钢铁一般的意志力,来进行自我约束。但我们大多数人之所以能回绝短期的愉悦,是因为我们能看到,有一条切实可行的路径,连接着现在的自我克制和未来的更好报偿。如果年轻女性看到,未来有可能进入学费适中的大学就读,年纪轻轻就怀孕生子的可能性会大大降低。

Third, exemplars. Character is not developed individually. It is instilled by communities and transmitted by elders. The centrist Democratic group Third Way suggests the government create a BoomerCorps. Every day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, some of them could be recruited into an AmeriCorps-type program to help low-income families move up the mobility ladder.

第三,模范。品格并不是靠个人发展起来的,它是由社区灌输、由长者传递下来的。中间派民主党团体“第三条道路”(Third Way)建议政府成立一个“婴儿潮志愿队”(BoomerCorps)。婴儿潮一代里,每天都有一万人达到65岁,我们可以把其中一些人招募进一个类似“美国志愿队”(AmeriCorps)的项目,帮助低收入家庭在社会阶层中向上流动。

Fourth, standards. People can only practice restraint after they have a certain definition of the sort of person they want to be. Research from Martin West of Harvard and others suggests that students at certain charter schools raise their own expectations for themselves, and judge themselves by more demanding criteria.

第四,标准。只有对想成为哪种人有了确切的定义,人们才能进行约束。哈佛学者马丁·韦斯特(Martin West)及其他专家所做的研究发现,某些特许学校的学生会提高对自己的预期,并且用更严苛的标准评价自己。

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