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Ridgeview News > Posts > How to prepare students for the REAL WORLD
October 25
How to prepare students for the REAL WORLD

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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 give up.

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.

1.     Courage

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 grit.

2.     Conscientiousness

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

sk at hand is a good predictor of educational success and job proficiency.

3.     Long 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 success. 

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. 

4.     Resilience

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.

5.     Excellence

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.

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