Accountability Character Discipline Grit Testing

Nancy Bailey: What’s Better than Grit? Reading Books and a Good Teacher

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Nancy Bailey opened her mail and saw that Angela Duckworth was on the cover of the handout for Costco Connection, touting the virtues of grit and why every child needs it.

I had somehow hoped we had passed through the “grit” phase and moved on to something else. Probably, the fact that it is featured on the cover of the Costco flyer means that it is already passé.

Duckworth has has list:

Her grit goals for children include the following:

I am a hard worker.
Setbacks don’t discourage me.
I finish whatever I begin.
I don’t give up easily.
I am diligent.
I will never give up.
Numbers 3 and 6 might especially give us pause.

Nancy rightly notes that teachers have been instilling “grit” since time immemorial.

For starters, grit is a repackaged idea. If you’ve read “The Little Engine Who Could” by Watty Piper to your child, you’ve taught them to try their best. Many children’s books incorporate the idea of endurance. It’s a timeless virtue.

Teaching character traits like perseverance through children’s literature seems more meaningful, and enjoyable, than browbeating students to carry through on every task to prove their stamina.

Lots of good ideas here. Nancy warns about the “strictness” imposed by KIPP-style no-excuses.

It’s important to remember, that with grit and high-stakes standards, including Common Core, children are not always setting their own goals. They aren’t dreaming of passing tests. They want to do well on them, or they fear them, because it’s what adults tell them to do. They’re being set up to please adults.

That’s a huge problem with grit and what makes it disingenuous.

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