Grit. Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines this quality as a “combination of passion and perseverance” (Duckworth, 2016, p. 8) which contributes to one achieving highly. Grit is not only about effort, resilience, or trying hard: grit is commitment to a long term goal or life philosophy to which one is loyal over a long period of time. Grit is the opposite of complacency, being an enduring drive to improve which means even something which is arduous, unstimulating or painful can be endured for the sake of the long term goal.
It is examination time, and many students feel pressure to succeed. Sometimes, they feel they are not good enough, or the purpose of assessments or examinations can be hard for them to fathom, and subsequently their application decreases. However, what’s significant about Duckworth’s research is that she found effort was a significant factor for achievement, something which the research of many others has also confirmed. Effort counts twice as much towards one’s goal than any other factor, including IQ. This is something from which all students can benefit, both gifted and non-gifted. Effort matters.
Interestingly, Duckworth’s research has suggested as we age, grittiness grows. She suggests this is because over time, one’s life philosophy becomes clearer, and when we fail, disappointment can be rationalised and, instead, learning can be attained from the failure, with a stronger refocus upon our life’s philosophy, the long term goal.
Duckworth simplifies the achievement of a life-long philosophy into a hierarchy of short, medium and long term goals for the sake of her argument. But have our students determined their life philosophy, the goal which will direct them in their lives? Some adults have not, so it is unrealistic to expect our students all have. For most, they are still experimenting with potential goals for their future.
For some students, they may not determine their life philosophy until they are out of school. It is our responsibility as educators, and parents’ responsibilities as carers to reassert that these short term goals such as everyday learning, assessments and examinations are ones which will aid them in the future. They may not know where their path is heading at present, but they will.
This is why focusing on learning in the classroom in every lesson, submitting homework, using feedback to improve, assessments and examinations are all important. They are short term expectations which aid the movement towards medium term goals, which in turn shape the development of a long term goal or life philosophy. The work our students are doing in homerooms regarding their SMART goals aids in the regulation of these short term aims. This focus on the short term will keep helping them look towards the medium and long term.
One day, their life philosophy will be formulated. Small steps, big gains.
Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. New York, NY, USA: Scribner.
If you would like to listen to Angela Duckworth speak about grit, please click here for her TedTalk.
Nicole Sabbadin (Ms)
Gifted & Talented Coordinator