It is obvious that we need to talk about grit. Some great conversations have been happening on the Edutopia post I wrote [“True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach it“] about the current Grit research and how I'm bringing that research to my classroom.
Why don't you just define grit?
As I wrote the article, I started flipping through research and rereading my Kindle notes from books I've read on this topic and one thing is clear to me – we know grit matters but we don't really know how to capture it in a simple definition. Sure, some have tried, but I'm not sure it encompasses the original grit test that Angela Duckworth speaks of her in her popular TED Talk.
Can you teach grit if you can't define it?
So, in my own classroom, we took the grit test, watched the video, and wrote our own definitions of grit (scattered throughout this post.)
But grit is not something you give. This is grits that I could scatter across my classroom like snow – it isn't something you can eat or spray on them.
Grit is simple – it is developed by situations that require it. We all have tough in our life – but what do we do with it? Do we grit our teeth and push forward or do we fall back and lay on our floppy cushion with excuses in our mouths?
Grit is well named – do you grit your teeth? Do you have to have grit to overcome it?
As we talked about grit, I made one thing very very clear to my students: I will work hard to be interesting and engaging but I will never be easy. Never.
The kids might “think” I'm easy because they are engaged in work but if you see their faces as they work, you'll see that they are engaged. You may even see a glimmer of grit there – I hope so.
Grit is not something you teach, it is something you allow to happen as you help kids climb the mountains in their lives and in their schools.
Take the #grit challenge on Twitter: help us teach grit!
Today I'm issuing the “grit” challenge on Twitter. Share your favorite quote or article relating to grit and follow the hashtag. We all need quotes to use to talk about this important topic. Even if you come across this post later – tag and share it anyway. Add to our collection. Talk about it on Facebook and wherever you are – it is a conversation we need to have.
Can you teach your staff about grit?
Meanwhile, Edutopia has compiled a great set of resources on resilience and grit as these two concepts are closely related and indeed, hard to separate in a definition.
If you are a school leader, you could promote this discussion by sharing the Edutopia list and splitting them up with your staff for each person to read and come back and discuss.
Sadly, some may use this as an excuse to mean, harsh, and unbending – there is a difference between meanness and toughness just as there is a difference between persistence and obstinacy.
As with all non-cognitive factors, this conversation will be fraught with controversy and opinions. I think that some are just upset because something so important is so impossible to measure. We must come to grips with the fact that the most important things about education can never be measured for they are lived out in the lives of our students.
Let's talk about grit. Can you teach grit? Discuss.
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