'Perserverance' photo (c) 2008, Wesley Fryer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Anyone who has read my blog or my books knows that I’m a big supporter of Social Emotional Learning, including helping students develop “grit” (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit” and the grit lessons and strategies in my books).

I’ve also been critical of “school reformers” who try to hijack Social Emotional Learning to further objectives that I don’t believe are helpful to our schools (see my Washington Post piece, Why schools should not grade character traits, and New Research Shows Why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education Are Not Enough.

The latest example of grit “manipulation” is a new report from an L.A. school reform group issuing a report titled True Grit: The game-changing factors and people lifting school performance in LAUSD. Though there are a few good ideas in it, much of the report emphasizes very un-gritty ideas like giving students and teachers rewards and being data-driven through “dynamic data” (see The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”). According to the report, building grit is a hodgepodge of scores of different ideas that support the group’s school reform agenda.

Uh, no. 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.


Jeez, sometimes it seems to me that as soon as some “school reformers” hear about a good idea, they want to take it, manipulate it to their own ends, and crush the life out of it (see Gates Foundation Minimizing Great Tools For Helping Teachers Improve Their Craft and Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way) ).

You can read more about it at The Hechinger Report.