Angela Duckworth: Giving Children the Gift of Grit

March 6, 2014

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." Thomas Edison may have coined the phrase in 1902, but it's never been more relevant than it is today. And instead of perspiration, we're calling it grit.

In her work as a psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth was trying to figure out what motivated students the most in the classroom. And what she discovered was — beyond things like family income, grades, standardized test scores, or feeling safe at school — it was grit that made the most difference between a student persevering and graduating or dropping out. So what is grit, exactly?

In her TED Talk, Duckworth spells it out.

"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals," Duckworth says. "Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out...and working really hard to make that future a reality.

And finding ways to instill that grit in students is paramount. One method Duckworth mentions: "growth mindset," an idea developed by Dr. Carol Dweck at Stanford University. What it basically means is, given enough effort, the ability to learn can be altered for the better.

"Dr. Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge," Duckworth says, "they're much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don't believe that failure is a permanent condition."

So how gritty are you? Take the grit survey and find out.

Watch the complete TED Talk here:

By Lisa Merlini

Tag: Exploring Education

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