Our job as educators is to prepare students for success in
school and in the real world beyond school. Teaching students to read and write is only the
beginning. A focus on success in
life means that,beyond teaching the three Rs we must also teach character,
emotional intelligence, responsibility and an appreciation of the complexity of
human diversity. We must also
teach the virtues of grit – tenacity, perseverance, and the ability to never
While grit is a hot topic in education as of late, Ridgeview
staff look to the research to expand our understanding of how grit is defined
in the research and how to nurture grittiness in our young students.
While it is very important that students enjoy learning and
want to come to school, the teaching of grit means that students will
experience, and perhaps embrace some frustration and discomfort. To prepare students for the real world,
we must teach them how to respond to frustration and failure. This is often a sticking point in
education…while it is necessary for students to experience frustration and even
failure as they move through their schooling years…. finding a balance between
allowing children to experience frustration and rescuing them from this
experience is necessary to developing grit.
Learning how to respond positively to setbacks is
essential. Regardless of their
academic performance, students are bound to encounter frustrations and failures
in school and in the real world.
Responding appropriately when things go wrong – turning a failure into a
good failure, one from which we learn – is key to success in life.
Most of us have developed routines that enable us to plan,
work, and be successful. Grit
helps us determine how to respond when things go wrong. The self-monitoring and emotional
control that grit provides keeps us focused on a task but also enables us to
persevere when we fail.
Importantly, grit helps us develop resilience.
Researcher Angela Duckworth who is at the forefront of her
field in studying the role grit plays on success admits that the essence of
grit depends on many factors. The
stronger or weaker your grittiness, she remarks, is based on the extent to
which you can access, ignite and control it.
Duckworth identifies 5 observable characteristics in
individuals who demonstrate grit.
The courage to take risks and
manage fear of failure is an important predicator of success. By embracing failure, learning from
ones mistakes, and persevering through challenges fear can be overcome, and
resilience developed. Courage,
like a muscle, needs to be exercised daily. Courage, Duckworth comments is directly proportional to
According to Duckworth,
conscientiousness is closely linked to grit. Specifically, it was found that the ability to be
achievement oriented and work tirelessly to do a good job and complete the ta
at hand is a good predictor of educational success and job proficiency.
Term Goals, Endurance and Follow Through
Duckworth expands on the merits
of achievement orientation. Where
achievement is defined as the product of talent and effort, Duckworth explains
that the function of effort defined as intensity, direction and duration
results in the grittiest of individuals.
Ones commitment toward a long-term goal is important to developing grit. Additionally, goal focused sustained
effort combined with lots and lots of practice is necessary for extraordinary
To help understand this
characteristic of grit, think of the many extraordinary individuals be they
role models, famous personalities, change-makers who have made significant
contributions to the world.
Resilience is defined as ones
ability to bounce back from unforeseen shocks and surprises and to persevere
despite challenges. Understanding
that setbacks are inevitable and being able to apply creativity and sustained
effort to overcome challenges are indicators of resilience.
Duckworth’s research on grit
defines excellence as an ongoing quest for improvement and an individual’s
ability to embrace progress over perfection.
Like excellence, grit appears to
be a conscious attitude involving seeking, sustaining, and persisting.
Ridgeview staff are intentional
about incorporating grit into everyone’s vocabulary at school – teachers,
students, and parents. Nurturing
Duckworth’s characteristics of grit (courage, conscientiousness, goal
orientation, resilience, and excellence) support the development of grit.
The use of other vocabulary terms
that support teaching grit, failure, frustration, tenacity, perseverance,
self-confidence, self-image, emotion, comfort zone are also encouraged.
Working together to ensure grit
is a part of the school community dialogue is a way to ensure academic success
and success beyond life at school.
Fostering grit is preparing students for the real world.