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“Grit” Isn’t Everything, But I Still Think It’s Important For Students To Learn About (& Practice) It

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'Perseverance' photo (c) 2006, Evil Paul - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Recently, there has been a fair amount of backlash against how some people, especially some “school reformers,” who may have seized on the concept of “grit” as a way to avoid dealing with much more substantial challenges facing our schools and students.

I’ve certainly been one of those critics (see No, L.A. School Reformers, Grit Does Not Equal Giving Students Rewards & Being Data-Driven and The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough).

Some of the criticisms, though, I think are a bit exaggerated, and I hope some teachers don’t end up “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

I’ve written a lot here (The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”) and in my books about how I explicitly teach “grit,” and here’s why:

Helping our students develop grit involves encouraging them to identify their own goals, providing them materials to learn the research behind grit and how it can be useful to them in achieving those goals, and offering support so they can develop the intrinsic motivation to hang in there when they going gets rough or to have the informed judgment necessary to know when to adjust those goals.

Nevertheless, it’s worth reading the cautions in these critiques, and I thought I’d share links to them:

Teachers Need Grit To Resist Grit Fad is by Paul Bruno.

Paul Tough’s Grit Hypothesis Doesn’t Help Poor Kids is from Education Next.

Grit v. Knowledge: Round 2 is also by Peter Meyer at Education Next.

Paul Tough v. Peter Høeg – or – the Advantages and Limits of “Research” is by Ira Socol.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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