GRIT 2.0 Resources
More resources for today’s teachers.
“Drop the flashcards—grit, character, and curiosity matter even more than cognitive skills. A persuasive wake-up call.”—People
Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control.
How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to improve the lives of children growing up in poverty. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.
“Illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”—New York Times
“I learned so much reading this book and I came away full of hope about how we can make life better for all kinds of kids.”—Slate
In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough explores the question of why some children succeed while others fail. He argues that the key to a child’s success is not so much about intelligence, but character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. Tough traces the links between childhood stress and life success, and uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do and do not prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides new insights into how to help children growing up in poverty. How Children Succeed is a provocative and hopeful book that has the potential to change how we raise our children, how we run our schools, and our understanding of childhood itself.
Kazimierz Dąbrowski Theory
The Theory of Positive Disintegration is a novel approach to personality development. The theory is a forerunner of what today is called post-traumatic growth. Many of today’s students are coming to class traumatized by life experiences, which if recognized and treated effectively, can become a catalyst for growth. Dąbrowski described the psychological factors he believed to be related to positive (growth full) outcomes after crises. He called these factors “developmental potential” and they include a description of psychological sensitivity he called overexcitability (OE). Dąbrowski observed that individuals with strong OE experience crises in a stronger, deeper and more personal manner. The intense experience of crises creates an opportunity for the conscious and volitional rearrangement of the self including a reformulation and reprioritization of one’s values and beliefs. (Worth a look).
The Obstacle is the Way
A concept that is taking root in the demanding realm of professional sports, The Obstacle Is the Way deals with failure, perspective, and having the mental toughness to carry on no matter what the circumstances. While this book doesn’t explicitly address classroom teaching, it is a helpful reminder that life challenges are meant to be faced head-on. It’s a study and reflection on the philosophy of Stoicism, along with stories of great historical figures that realized that problems were merely a chance to grow stronger. By the time you finish it, you might just feel a little stronger yourself. The Obstacle Is the Way touches on that and does whatever it can to show students that problems are opportunities to get stronger.
GRIT 1.0 RESOURCES
From Teacher Vicki Davis: Here are 11 ways that I’m tackling grit in my classroom and school.
1. Read Books About Grit
Read books, hold book studies and discuss trends. Measuring noncognitive factors like grit will be controversial, but just because we struggle to measure it doesn’t mean that we can stop trying.
- Book Reading List:
- How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiousity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcom Gladwell
- Performance Values Position Paper (PDF) by Character Education Partnership
- Trend Reading:
- KIPP’s Character Report Card
- Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology
2. Talk About Grit
First, I give my students the grit scale test (PDF) and let them score it. Then we watch Angela Duckworth’s TED video together and talk about the decisions we make that impact grit. Empower students to educate themselves — they can’t wait for educators to figure this out.
3. Share Examples
In my ninth grade classroom, January starts with a video about John Foppe, born with no arms, who excelled as an honor student, drove his own car, and became a successful psychologist and speaker while creatively using his feet. We also talk to Westwood alum Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to complete an Ironman competition. These are gritty people. Life is hard, and luck is an illusion.
4. Help Students Develop a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck from Stanford University teaches us that students who have a growth mindset are more successful than those who think that intelligence is fixed. (See David Hochheiser’s post Growth Mindset: A Driving Philosophy, Not Just a Tool.)
5. Reframe Problems
Using stories and examples from Malcom Gladwell’s book David and Goliath, we talk about “desirable difficulties.” Students need perspective about problems to prevent them from giving up, quitting or losing hope.
6. Find a Framework
I use Angela Maiers’ Classroom Habitudes as my framework. The KIPP framework specifically includes grit as one of its seven traits. Find one that works for your school and includes clear performance values.
7. Live Grittily
You teach with your life. Perhaps that is why Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture and David Menasche’s Priority List resonate. These teachers used their own battle with death itself as a way to teach. But you don’t have to die to be an effective teacher. Our own work ethic yells so loudly that kids know exactly what we think about grit.
8. Foster Safe Circumstances That Encourage Grit
Never mistake engaging, fun or even interesting for easy. We don’t jump up and down when we tear off a piece of tape because “I did it.” No one celebrates easy, but everyone celebrates championships and winners because those take grit (and more). We need more circumstances to help kids to develop grit before they can “have it.”
Tough academic requirements, sports and outdoor opportunities are all ways to provide opportunities for developing grit. Verena Roberts, Chief Innovation Officer of CANeLearn says:
One of the best ways to learn about grit is to focus on outdoor education and go out into the wild. Grit is about not freaking out, taking a deep breath, and moving on.
9. Help Students Develop Intentional Habits
Read about best practices for creating habits, because habits and self-control require grit.
10. Acknowledge the Sacrifice Grit Requires
Grit takes time, and many students aren’t giving it. In their 2010 paper “The Falling Time Cost of College“, Babcock and Marks demonstrate that, in 1961, U.S. undergraduates studied 24 hours a week outside of class. In 1981, that fell to 20 hours, and in 2003, it was 14 hours per week. This is not to create a blame or generation gap discussion, but rather to point out the cost of being well educated. We are what we do, and if we study less and work less, then we will learn less.
11. Discuss When You Need Grit and When You Need to Quit
Grit is not without controversy. Alfie Kohn has some valid points in his criticism of grit. So read and discuss the opponents of grit in class.
In particular, I agree with the point that there is a time for grit and a time to quit. There are times when it’s OK to quit something that just isn’t within your range of talents, or when trying something different may enrich your life. Worthy tasks deserve persistence. But there are tasks that would be worthier in a different season of your life. There are jobs that should be left. Sometimes you have to let go of something good to grasp something great. Students need discernment to know when they need grit and when it may be a time to quit.
Educators Need Grit
Now we as teachers just need the grit to do whatever it takes to turn education around, and that starts with hard work and our own modern version of true grit. Teaching it and living it is now front and center in the education conversation.
AWESOME NEW GRIT CLASSROOM RESOURCES, ANGELA DUCKWORTH
Building Grit, Cathe McCoy (Teachers Pay Teachers $10)
GROWTH MINDSET CLASSROOM MATERIALS
Vicki Davis, Edutopia article True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It
Additional Educational Resources:
- Edutopia’s Resilience and Grit: Resource Roundup – http://www.edutopia.org/resilience-grit-resources
- Digital Learning and Grit:Tech Tools for Teachers in Flipped (and all) Classrooms – http://www.techlearning.com/features/0039/digital-learning-and-grittech-tools-for-teachers-in-flipped-and-all-classrooms/53709
- How to Foster Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: An Educator’s Guide – http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/how-to-foster-grit-tenacity-and-perseverance-an-educators-guide/
- Office of Educational Technology: Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century)
- Encouraging and Building Grit (Article)
THE RESILIENCE PROJECT posits that rejection, failure, or disappointment, in the context of learning, are as valuable as the success we strive for. Many of the reflections in these videos and on the pages you’ll read will show you that success comes because of, not in spite of, failure.
Grit and Growth Mindset
- Teaching Grit Cultivates Resilience and Perseverance (Edutopia, 2014)
In rural New Hampshire, fifth-grade teacher Amy Lyon has created a curriculum based on researcher Angela Duckworth’s ideas about grit. Students set and work toward their own long-term goals, learning valuable lessons about dealing with frustration and distractions along the way.
- True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It (Edutopia, 2013)
Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis identifies the nature of grit, its necessity and value of grit in education, and ten ways of teaching students to develop their own grit.
- 5 Steps to Foster Grit in the Classroom (Edutopia, 2013)
Edutopia blogger Andrew Miller considers ‘grit’ as a 21st century skill encompassing real-world qualities like determination, adaptability and reflection, and suggests five steps to foster this mindset in the classroom.
- Grit: The Other 21st Century Skills (User Generated Education, 2013)
Gerstein provides educational resources for understanding and building grit in this companion post to her post on resilience, part of a series of posts on 21st-century skills. Her post includes tools for practice at all levels and a link to Angela Duckworth’s TED talk on grit.
- True Grit (Association for Psychological Science, 2013)
Focused on the research, this article serves as a good overview of Angela Duckworth’s research on grit for beginning and experienced educators.
Blogger Elena Aguilar shares highlights from Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed. As a follow up, you may want to listen to the podcast Back to School (This American Life, 2012), also focused on the Tough book.
- How To Foster Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: An Educator’s Guide (KQED’s MindShift, 2013)
MindShift editor Tina Barseghian summarizes some of the highlights of a report issued by the Department of Education’s Office of Technology, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.”
- Grit, Luck and Money (American Public Media, 2012)
This outstanding set of articles/podcast explores the challenges faced by disadvantaged students entering college, many of whom struggle to get to graduation. Going beyond grit to the need for ongoing supports, Emily Hanford profiles the support model at work in YES Prep Public Schools, a charter school network Edutopia profiled in 2009: College-Bound Culture in Houston.
- The Biggest Lie Students Tell Me (and How to Turn It Around) (Edutopia, 2013)
Edutopia blogger Jose Vilson offers three strategies to help educators shape the discussion after a student says, “I can’t do this.”
- Stanford University’s Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education (OneDublin.org, 2012)
In this article, a useful introduction to Carol S. Dweck’s work and thinking, OneDublin.org founder and editor James Morehead interviews Dweck about her research into mindsets and the concept of “fixed mindset” versus “growth mindset.”
- Growth Mindset and the Common Core Math Standards (Edutopia, 2013)
Guest blogger Cindy Bryant, moderator of the LearnBop PLC, describes some of the research on growth mindset and illustrates how the growth mindset aligns with the Common Core Standards for math.