Though I’m a firm believer that it’s important to help our students learn to direct the “grit” they often demonstrate in outside of school activities to the classroom, I’m also clear that there are often forces beyond their control that can frustrate whatever grit they demonstrate (see my Ed Week column, ‘It’s Time to Change the Conversation About Grit’). These “forces” can include socio/economic ones (see Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong from the Washington Post) and the biases of teachers themselves (see Teacher race affects black students’ odds of being labeled ‘gifted,’ also from The Washington Post).
Here’s a short segment from the AMC show “Better Call Saul” that illustrates that grit is not the cure-all:
An NPR piece writes more about this topic at ‘Saul’ And The Limits Of Hustle.
All this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage grit.
It does mean, however, that we should also keep in mind what I wrote in that Ed Week post:
Yes, let’s help our students apply academic grit in the context of “the fuller formula for success: effort+strategies+help from others.” However, let’s also help them learn what the formula means outside of the classroom. Let’s assist our students to recognize the socio-economic challenges that they might face and help them acquire active citizenship skills. Then, they can also effectively use their grit to combat those challenges. It is our responsibility as teachers to make sure our students understand one of the mantras of community organizing – we live in the world as it is, not in the world as we’d like it to be.
I’m adding this post to: