With over ten years of back-yard observation, I have witnessed scores of children “wipe out” a gazillion times. There is the simple trip-and-fall, the oh-that’s-gotta-hurt, and the paranormal tumble, with its subsequent ride to the ER. What has impressed me most throughout my years of observation is the one kid–no matter the classification of wipeout or injury—who stands up, brushes himself or herself off, and keeps on going. That is the kid who has “grit.”
Parents and teachers easily spot grit in a child. It’s the “thing” that gives you some assurance that this kid will be all right in life, because he or she can take the hard knocks and persevere.
How important is grit? Some researchers claim grit is a better predictor of success than I.Q. A 2013 report from the Department of Education claims that kids are learning to “do school,” but aren’t learning the skills they need in life– skills like critical thinking and positive-choice making, which are crucial to every area of life.
However, schools across the nation are becoming more proactive in recognizing the value of determination, effort, and hard work and are providing additional resources for the development of critical thinking skills, which improve self-confidence. One can argue that grit is just a byproduct of confidence, but, although we may see grit as a natural way for some, and not for others, researchers are hopeful that the qualities that define grit, like persistence, tenacity, and resilience, are teachable. The difficulty is trying to quantify the unquantifiable.
How can we develop grit? As parents and teachers, we can simply back off and let the struggles and natural consequences of life occur. Think of a butterfly working its way out of the cocoon. Without the struggle to free itself from the cocoon, the butterfly cannot develop the wing strength to fly, and it will die. It is a test of personal restraint, not to rescue students by giving hints to questions that may prove to be challenging or to take over tasks at home with which kids may struggle. Through every struggle, our children will develop persistence, resilience, and, finally, grit.
What are your “gritty” experiences as parents and teachers? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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