Most Likely to Succeed–Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era

Most Likely to Succeed

When I graduated from high school, my class voted me Most Athletic and Most Likely to Succeed. There were a few other students up for Most Athletic, so I was officially dubbed the Most Likely to Succeed. I have always been honored by that peer nomination (although at the time, my real preference as a teenager was to be recognized as Most Athletic – oh well…).

I’ve always sort of wondered what exactly led my peers to see me as the most likely to succeed in our class. Was it something quantifiable? …a gut feeling? …the only option left that simply defaulted to me?

And now, as a principal, I find myself reflecting on “success” through another lens and constantly considering questions like:

  1. How do we define success in life? …in society? …in school?
  2. Why do we define it as such?
  3. How can we help our students to be successful – academically, socially, morally, and otherwise?
  4. Is success teachable/coachable?
  5. If so, what are the hard skills? …or are they soft skills? …perhaps a combination of both?

Recently, I was discussing these questions with one of my mentors, and he mentioned a book he’d been reading called Most Likely to Succeed. Naturally, the mere title of the text piqued my curiosity, and I purchased a copy for myself.

I have just started reading, and I think this book could offer some good food for thought to share periodically throughout the year. With that being said, here is an excerpt to whet your whistle:

“For the last century, the classroom experience for most students has revolved around lectures, note-taking, recall-based tests, and grades. Clubs, sports, and social interaction were regarded as providing a welcome break from the intense learning process. We will see, however, that most lecture-based courses contribute almost nothing to real learning. … Experiences, rather than short-term memorization, help students develop the skills and motivation that transform lives. … In this book, we will explore the contradiction between what students must do to earn a high school or college degree versus what makes them most likely to succeed in the world of work, citizenship, and lifelong learning” (pp. 7-8).

Hmmmm… very interesting. I’m not sure whether I am going to agree or disagree with these authors, but I already have lots of questions, and I’m curious to see what research they share and where the go with this text. Until next time…




Wagner, T.  (2015).  Most likely to succeed, preparing our kids for the innovation era.  New York: New York.