Is good old-fashioned grit the missing ingredient in today’s youth?
Yes it is, according to a report on today’s National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
In a segment titled, “Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead?” reporter Tovia Smith says, “Around the nation, schools are beginning to see grit as key to students’ success — and just as important to teach as reading and math.”
In the interview, Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “This quality of being able to sustain your passions, and also work really hard at them, over really disappointingly long periods of time, that’s grit. It’s a very, I think, American idea in some ways — really pursuing something against all odds.”
Reporter Smith adds, “Experts define grit as persistence, determination and resilience; it’s that je ne sais quoi that drives one kid to practice trumpet or study Spanish for hours — or years — on end, while another quits after the first setback.” Then the reporter asks: Can grit be taught?
According to author Grant Overstake, the answer to that question can be found in a sport where youngsters are learning to face their fears, overcome obstacles, and triumph over gravity.
“I think pole-vaulting is one of the greatest ways for a young person to develop grit,” Overstake says, “because it takes tremendous courage and self-will to keep going higher and higher over a rising crossbar. Grit is a great word to describe what all great and future great pole-vaulters have in abundance.”
Overstake’s novel, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is the story of a particularly gritty farm girl, Maggie Steele, who gets knocked down by a tragic event. Overwhelmed by anger and grief, she withdraws from normal everyday life. But then she discovers pole-vaulting.
“Through the struggle and reward of learning to pole-vault, Maggie finds an activity that demands all of her physical and mental strength, something she can throw herself into,” says Overstake.
“The crossbar falls down over and over again, but she dusts herself off just as many times, and in the process she develops a gritty determination, and begins to believe the inner voice that says, ‘Yes you can!'”
Since Maggie was published 14 months ago, the story has been endorsed by Olympians, and coaches have purchased copies of the book as motivational awards. Teachers, counselors and psychologists praise the novel for its positive message. KIRKUS REVIEWS calls the story, “A fine young adult novel about perseverance in sports and in life.”
And now acclaimed narrator Tavia Gilbert is eager to perform Maggie’s story on audiobook. Tavia’s impressive list of accolades includes more than 250 audiobooks and six Audie Award nominations (the audiobook equivalent of the Academy Award). “Inspiring stories have an impact,” Gilbert says, “and I’m honored to be a partner in the effort to bring this heartfelt story to new audiences.”
Maggie is a story of true grit. It’s also the story of how a youngster’s life can be changed at just the right moment by supportive people who care. Without the support of key people in her community, Maggie’s dream could have never come true.