Researchers found that Behaviour in Secondary School predicts Income and Occupational Success later in Life

How you behave in school predicts life success above and beyond family background, IQ and broad traits. That was the title of the academic article just published by M. Spengler and others in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2018) and published by the American Psychological Association.

In short, students who show interest in school report greater income 50 years later regardless of parental income or IQ.

Being a responsible student, maintaining an interest in school and having good reading and writing skills will not only help a teenager get good grades in high school, but could also be predictors of educational and occupational success decades later, regardless of IQ, parental socioeconomic status or other personality factors, according to the research.

Educational researchers, political scientists and economists are increasingly interested in the traits and skills that parents, teachers and schools should foster in children to enhance chances of success later in life,” said lead author Marion Spengler, PhD, of the University of Tübingen. “Our research found that specific behaviors in high school have long-lasting effects for one’s later life.

Perhaps this finding is not surprising. If a student learns some sound effective habits (eg., being organised, having good study habits, showing “stickability”) in primary and secondary school, then it might well be expected that those students would go on to be more successful than their peers.

However, what is going to ensure that we actually set up our adolescents for that success?

How do we do that when many would argue that the school system that we have is hardly “interesting” and is in fact, archaic. Some have asserted that the school system which was originally set up to teach the agricultural workers how to read and write as we moved in the industrial era to work in factories, really hasn’t changed much since that time. Some have rightly asserted that one of the biggest mistakes in our so-called enlightenment was to close down technical schools

How do we do that when many would argue that the school system that we now have is hardly “interesting” and is in fact, archaic. That school is out-dated and irrelevant.

Some have asserted that the school system which was originally set up to teach the agricultural workers how to read and write as we moved into the industrial era to work in factories, really hasn’t changed much at all since that time. Many have argued that schools are behind the times especially in relation to computers and technology and that many of the students are well ahead of their teachers when it comes to software and technology.

Some have rightly asserted that one of the biggest mistakes in our so-called enlightenment was to close down technical schools or colleges which were at the heartland of our trades. These colleges were an absolute boon for those students who didn’t really learn from a book, but were very much hands-on learners. A generation of apprentices came out of these technical colleges and they loved their work.

Where is it written that life is all about getting an ATAR score in Year 12 so we can all go to University? 

Many adults have asked why in school they weren’t taught important life skills like budgeting, opening a bank account, learning to be emotionally intelligent, understanding how to communicate and listen effectively, learning what leadership is all about, learning how to be innovative and entrepreneurial, learning how to start and manage a business and so on.

If the researchers are accurate about their findings that school behaviour and interest in school predicts later success, then as a community we’d best take a long hard look at whether we have the best school system for setting up our adolescents for that success. Many would argue that we don’t.

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