Getting Gritty: Introduction

As educators, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out why some students don’t continue on with their courses: Why some drop out even before the first test. Why others are within reach of the semester’s end and just stop attending.

Of course, just as interesting are those students who, on the face it, shouldn’t be passing. They come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are suffering from financial problems. They have family issues. Yet, they stick it out and graduate.

What is the difference? Some may say IQ. Others may blame bad schools or poor neighborhoods or lack of family support. And these issues may indeed contribute. But they alone don’t explain why two people can have the same family backgrounds, go to the same schools, and even have the same IQ’s, and yet one drops out while the other perseveres and succeeds.

Researchers are now investigating traits that might explain why people succeed. Called ‘grit’ these traits include hard work, delayed gratification, perseverance, resilience, and curiosity.

While it’s probably true that some people are just plain born ‘grittier’ than others, researchers and educators are studying how to provide learning environments so that students can become more persistent in working towards their goals.

Towards that end, the Tuesday blog this semester will be discussing the various components of grit. To get started, watch one of the leading researchers in the topic give a talk and take the GRIT test yourself.

Watch Angela Duckworth: What Is Grit? on PBS. See more from TED Talks Education.

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