True Grit

We have now launched the 2012-13 school year in successful fashion.  I expect many successes as the year unfolds, but this week we also heard some reminders that learning can come from disappointments and that learning is in many ways unglamorous.  The Rev. Poulson Reed, in his opening sermon of the school year, cited the German diver who spectacularly failed at the recent Olympics with a failed attempt that received a score of 0.  Fr. Reed used that vivid example to make the point that our response to disappointment is a key to growth and development.  Similarly, keeping our students safe and secure is not the same as insulating them from all missteps and unsuccessful moments.

Middle School Head Irene Tseng made a complementary point to middle school students when she emphasized the importance of grit in achieving their goals.  Grit is not glamorous but certainly essential for each of us.  In fact recent research suggests that grit may be a more reliable predictor for some people than are things with which educators and parents are sometimes excessively occupied, e.g., IQ and test scores.  An article I read this week (see link below) reinforced Fr. Reed’s insight and Mrs. Tseng’s exhortation.  Reading the article, I was particularly intrigued by the reference to research conducted by Angela Duckworth and her development of a “grit scale” questionnaire.  If you are intrigued as I was, googling “Duckworth grit questionnaire” will lead you to several different versions of that instrument.  I tested out some of the items in the questionnaire with our sixth graders earlier today.   

You can click here to read the article.

I mentioned Daniel Pink’s book Drive in my last post.  In that book Pink describes mastery, one of the three elements (the other two being autonomy and purpose) he has identified as essential for the Type I (intrinsically motivated) person, as a mindset, a pain, and an asymptote (i.e., something never quite fully achieved) – all gritty notions to be sure.  True grit leads to marvelous results. 

Until next time…

My best,

Leo