Build Character to Ensure Success

Dominic Randolph is the head master at one of New York’s most prestigious private schools, the Riverdale Country School. What makes him different than most people in his position is that he isn’t concerned about his student’s grades, sports and test scores. That’s not to say that he doesn’t care about the kids attending his school -in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Randolph wants his students to be as successful in life as possible, he just doesn’t believe this can be accomplished by someone who has never had a taste of failure before.

The head master, who attended school in England says that American schools no longer focus on character – despite the fact that the country was founded on the belief than anyone who worked hard and kept trying, despite failure could become a success. He explains:

People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.

As a result, Randolph tries to encourage his teachers to instill values like grit, character and gratitude into students rather than just drilling them to perform well on tests. He even has meetings with parents, urging them to let their children fail on occasion so they can learn how to turn that disappointment into a life lesson that will improve their character and future success.


The New York Times has a fascinating profile on Randolph and his philosophy for improving student’s lives. It also features these excellent anamorphic tape illusions that were used to illustrate Randolph’s measure of character throughout the article.

The pieces were completed by the Doyle Partners advertising company and they are just as cool as the profile on a head master who is redefining success in school.

For a little perspective, here are the images from other angles where you can’t read them as easily.

Click Here for a RANDOM Optical Illusion

25 Replies to “Build Character to Ensure Success”

  1. At last, some one in this country who understands the travisty that is the US educational system. My daughters attended school in Germany for several years. When we came back to the states they where at collage level even though one was a freshman and the other a sophmore. BTW, love the pics.

  2. Just a suggestion. Reposition the pictures so those showing the same scene from difernt perspectives are next to each other.

  3. What a waste of paint or tape!

    These images are only viewable from one angle and point of view, demonstrating this person’s mental attitude.

  4. Well, I’ll play Devil’s advocate then. Sure, we could use better school systems. But, we also have one of the highest exponential student growth rates in the world. So, comparing us to Germany and the UK is like comparing a five gallon coffee urn to a coffee cup. What I will say is that as a country we are far more likely to hand off the education of our children to someone else, say a public school system, and take a lesser role in our children’s education. As someone who is currently learning how to teach writing to college freshmen for the first time in their lives, I feel your pain. At the same time, it is unrealistic to look at examples like this and say “why can’t we do that on a large scale like the private schools do?” Vot for the millage next time it comes around, increase tax spending on education, and institute more socialized projects like Germany and UK does, and you can have that. Otherwise, turn off the TV and sit down with your kids and their books and get to work.

  5. It takes imagination, perseverance and teamwork to do each of these exercises in perspective. You could as easily say that doing homework is a waste of time and paper.

  6. Sure there are many issues that can be raised in relation to these illusions… but I’ll settle for enjoying them. good post.

  7. I can attest to the headmaster’s warning about those who easily complete school assignments and are praised, only later to find that adversity is too shocking to consider.

    That is exactly my life. I found the coursework far too easy, and, due to my father’s moving us-sans mom-all over the area, I was not entered into any challenging courses. I was pronounced ready to skip third grade to fourth, but I found a way to torpedo that within two weeks of graduation.

    By the time I reached HS, I was no better prepared for college than a toddler, and had only vague notions the requirements, which I’d already thrown out due to only doing enough to get by.

    Thoughout my life I’ve had constant “deer in the headlight” instances, and it is only worse now that I’m retired. It is only due to the fact that I worked hard that I was able to keep working steadily in the union. I certainly could not adequately perform as a foreman, though I was given the job anyway. I cannot handle even mild snags in plans; I get so confused that it is as if my brain shuts down completely, and I’d be hard-pressed to recall my name when there is the least bit of conflict or error. I truly feel that the almost constant praise and my lack of any sense of responsibility is one of the major factors in my never attaining anything like the “Potential” I was told I possessed.

    Anyway, I have a union pension and grandchildren to help me forget, temporarily, the abject failure and weakness that is my life.

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