To illustrate this point, in recent research, my research team and I look at roughly 7,000 men and women who were born in the same week in Great Britain in 1959. When these individuals were 11-years-old, their teachers were asked to complete inventories of student misbehavior in the classroom. The goal was to identify different types of childhood misbehavior or maladjustment.
In general, misbehavior in the classroom was—and continues to be—viewed as reflecting a set of negative character skills, which lower schooling attainment and cause problems for individuals throughout their lives.
Our results indicate that the story is much more nuanced. We show evidence that some forms of childhood misbehavior, known by developmental psychologists as “externalizing behaviors,” and manifesting as aggression, hyperactivity or hostility, are indeed bad for schooling. However, they are also valued in the labor market, predicting higher wages. Surprisingly, this is true for both men and women. In fact, high-externalizing women not only command higher wages, but also work longer hours. In other words, the research shows robust evidence that some of the “character skills” underlying misbehavior, despite their negative effect on schooling, can be quite valuable in other domains.
The conclusion is not that we should promote externalizing behaviors, such as aggression or hostility. This would almost surely bring its own set of problems. Rather, this research suggests that interventions devised to reduce externalizing behaviors could be short-sighted. They might promote educational attainment in the short-run, but stifle character skills that are productive in the long-run.
“[T]his research suggests that interventions devised to reduce externalizing behaviors [such as aggression or hostility] could be short-sighted. They might promote educational attainment in the short-run, but stifle character skills that are productive in the long-run.”
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Don’t grade schools on character skills | Brookings Institution