Whiteness vs 6 Tips for school and lifelong success

Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, School Psychologist

This article offers six tips for success I use to instill in students during group sessions, individual counseling, and mentoring. As I advise kids up to young adults and offer real world and professional advice on success strategies, I often reflect about advocates using a differing viewpoint. Some may train or teach from a perspective based upon superficial and stereotypical racial differences. These lessons are often led by equity advocates, professors and academicians holding doctorates and the esteem of many of their peers.

As an example, recently the National Museum of African American History proffered that certain values represent “signs of whiteness.” Please see the graphic above which was later removed by the museum after receiving criticism.

This school psychologist includes within her caseload at one time or another students of all races and ethnicities as well as those from rural, inner city and affluent families. I hold, based upon peer-reviewed research by Spengler, Damian, and Roberts (2018) that “how you behave in school predicts life success above and beyond family background, broad traits, and cognitive ability.” To test the validity of their hypothesis, the researchers commenced a longitudinal study of 377,000 students spanning 50 years; with reconnections to the participants occurring in years 1, 5, 11, and 50.

This finding is in stark contrast with the one espoused by the National Museum of African American History. It may be said then, regardless of the dominant culture within which one lives or springs from; the success strategies I will present ring true.

For instance, when one looks at the lives of self-made billionaires of various ethnicities and cultures, one poses questions such as, “what did it take to get from where you were to where you are today? And, “how do you raise your children for lifelong success?”

To assist parents as they endeavor to train their kids and lead them toward a healthy and productive life, a review of articles published on the internet was undertaken, here then are their answers.

6 Tips for Success: Billionaire Strategies

Two technology pioneers, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (his biological father was a Syrian Muslim, his adoptive parents Armenians, and his mother a German-Swiss Catholic) reared their children such that they:

  1. Limit social media, tv, games screen time to just one hour per day.

Robert Johnson, African American founder of BET advises:

2. Build a strong support and mentoring network.

Warren Buffet recommends:

3. Wake up early, stay healthy and read books about how to do things right.

Oprah Winfrey, an African American female suggests:

4. Meditate or take quiet time to contemplate and reflect.

Kim Beom Su, a successful Hong Kong investor advises:

5. Establish a set of standard routines and rituals that re-inforce productive habits.

Michal Solowow, a major investor from Poland argues that one should:

6. Maintain discipline and grow your skills.

When I compiled these six tips, I did not research ways in which different races or people of differing ethnic backgrounds succeed while living and working within a dominant ‘white‘ culture; rather, I applied the common factors ‘wealth‘ and “billionaire‘ and added the boolean search term ‘success.’ Voila ! And there appeared my answer.

Sometimes the highly educated, those situated in ivory towers, and/or feeding from the trough of government training contracts adopt multivariate explanations of complexity to explain the simplistic. How to achieve success? Does it first mean that one must disrobe, check one’s skin tone, conduct genealogical research of one’s culture, and only then check a box from a pre-selected list of clichés for which the experts or elites deem as applicable to you while keeping hidden those aspects that are readily available to all regardless of race, ethnicity, class or culture?

When I read through the educational and school psychology research, school success habits evaluated by Sprengler as measured by the Project Talent Personality Inventory can lead to lifelong career success. They closely aligned if not identical to the 6 success tips of billionaires. They are identified briefly here.

  1. Vigor
  2. Tidiness
  3. Calmness
  4. Self confidence
  5. Maturity
  6. Leadership
  7. Sociability
  8. Culture
  9. Social Sensitivity
  10. Low Impulsivity

Getting Back to the Spengler Study on School and Lifelong Success

While it may be lofty to train for expectations of billionaire status of my kids, it is heartwarming to know that educational attainment, annual income, and occupational prestige can be influenced by positive school behaviors; and less so by family background, broad traits, and cognitive ability. Research has shown that while success traits can be adopted across cultures and racial boundaries; the converse is also true. Certain habits can also can be attributed to failure irrespective of race, background, or intellectual abilities. The researchers write, “in other words, not paying attention and getting behind in school assignments was related to worse educational attainment, lower occupational prestige, and lower income.”

Please, as adults when we reflect upon positive and innovative ways in which we might build a more inclusive society, let’s ponder the potential of our messages and the manner in which they may be misapplied and misconstrued by those serving, teaching and leading the most vulnerable and impressionable population; our kids and young adults.

Thanks for reading. May you be continually blessed!

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Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA https://ishareknowledge.com is a consultant specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at: tonya dot ishareknowledge dot com