One of the most elusive keys to success is understanding how to teach grit to our students. Grit is defined as courage, resolve and strength of character. Students who display grit have passion for what they do, stamina to keep going even when they fail, perseverance and sticking to a goal that is often off in the distance. Anyone with grit knows that it’s just worth it. We stick to something because it pays a dividend that far exceeds immediate gratification. It’s often the difficult path to take, but is always rewarding. In education, grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals. How in the world can we teach that to students? In this “tuesdays” I hope to get help to encourage our teachers today with our students who don’t have grit.
A creative website
The Duckworth Lab is a fascinating research study at the University of Pennsylvania conducted primarily by Angela Duckworth. The focus is on grit and self-control. From their website, “Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007). Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth & Steinberg, in press).” They have published all their scales and are for personal, not public use. I am fascinated by her study because we have an epidemic of students inCharacter Lab where they have developed a system called WOOP to help initiate and sustain effort to achieve goals. It’s got to be worth a try.
An image to share
A gritty student making up his own system for getting his research essay completed.
“We need to be gritty about getting our kids to be grittier.”
Angela Lee Duckworth
I would like to encourage you to do a little research on grit. Angela Lee Duckworth has a great little TED talk about her research on grit in the classroom. I was particularly impressed with her honesty that we really don’t know how to teach grit to students, but we certainly can model it. Angela has created a 12 item grit scale that may be interesting to try on yourself or perhaps your students. Edutopia re-blog Vicki Davis’s post on True Grit in the classroom and it’s worth your read. Finally, I would like to recommend ASCD’s Educational Leadership article from September 2013 – Research Says/ Grit Plus Talent Equals Student Success. One thing we can all observe in today’s classroom is an increasing pattern of a lack of grit. How can we turn that around so that more of our students reap the benefits of hard work and its beautiful payoff? I encourage you to instill that in your students with perseverance. Don’t give up. You may make the difference for one of them.
How do you do that?
How do we teach grit to the students? Frankly, no one is really sure, but the indicators are clear that grit can be learned through inspiration. Dr. Carol Dweck has written a book entitled, “Mindset.” She is passionate about helping people make changes to reach their highest potential. She says, “I have always been deeply moved by outstanding achievement and saddened by wasted potential.” Her theory of fixed mindset vs. growth mindset is very helpful for us as educators. How can we expect our students to become “grittier” if they have no confidence, good examples or reason to be motivated? Our minds are constantly monitoring and interpreting. Fixed mindsets are focused on judging. Growth mindsets are more concerned with correcting a problem, changing a course and being attuned to making things better. I highly recommend some time well spent with Dr. Dweck’s Nature of Change.
As always, I am