How do you teach grit?

Nobody really knows how to teach “grit,” says Penn researcher Angela Duckworth in a Scholastic interview.  “How do you get your teachers to speak in ways that support growth mind-set?”

Duckworth’s nonprofit, Character Lab, is “organizing some lectures for teachers about self-control, grit, and related topics” and is  helping put together a MOOC for teachers.

Duckworth chose “grit” over pluck, tenacity, persistence and perseverance as the best word to describe the non-cognitive skills that lead to success.

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  1. I’ve been thinking about this topic, too, especially as it applies to adult learners. (I teach at a community college.) One idea I like is encouraging metacognition by introducing students to Carol Dweck’s theory of Growth Mindset. Step one might be convincing students that they can in fact become grittier, that their “grit score” is not fixed. It might be fun to have students experiment with personal analtyics. There are programs and apps out there that can track a person’s cognitive improvement over time — skills like attention, alertness, and focus. Visual evidence (charts and graphs) demonstrating improvement can be a powerful motivator.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Back in the day, an anthropologist whose name I might recognize if I heard it claimed to be able to read a disappeared culture by looking at children’s stories as seen on pottery.
    True or false, especially about people putting The Little Engine That Could on their vases three thousand years ago, I think the point stands that part of a kid’s likely personality is the CULTURE IN WHICH HE IS RAISED.
    What are the stories we tell our children? Catcher in The Rye, or Daniel Boone?
    Who is promoted as a hero, Neil Armstrong or Justin Bieber….. ? Forget it.

  3. There is no better way to teach grit than to show a current example of it that welcomes others to join in. Unfortunately, I must beat my own drum in this, but I suppose that includes some of what grit is all about. So read this:
    … and then join in!

    Steven A. Sylwester

  4. Grit (like kindness) is most easily taught through example. So a big part of how much grit a child has, is coming from her/his home environment. But teachers (and other school staff) can certainly model grit and can also verbalize their thought processes as they persist in a task, and/or recover from a task that doesn’t go well and needs to be attacked again.

    Children’s literature that is assigned or read out loud can focus on persistence and resilience exhibited by the characters.

    Preaching about grit? not so much.