A Student Reflection on “Grit”

One of the joys of teaching is reading thought-provoking entries from bright and ambitious students. I’ve been fortunate to have exceptional SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury graduate students in my teacher education classes, and decided to periodically share some of their reflections in this blog.

The entry that follows is written by Juliana Lanci. Enjoy.

Grit, the secret key to success

Research has shown that intelligence is not fixed. Rather, extensive studies reveal that a student with determination, perseverance and “grit” oftentimes overcome insurmountable challenges more so than “intelligent” students (Duckworth and Quinn, 2007). Academic success is similar to an educational marathon and students with stamina use the secret tool of “grit” to prevail.

Education is not a race to the top; but rather an extensive development of refining one’s capabilities. Haste from teachers in the classroom only creates anxiety and ultimately threatens students’ successes. Since the brain’s natural structure is malleable and works like a muscle; teachers must explain to students that daily “brain workouts” are fundamental in growing intelligence.

For those with “grit”, failures and setbacks are accepted as part of the process.  A person with a good self-regulating mind recognizes failure as temporary. Simply put, a positive mindset is better equipped to handle and manage bumps in the road. Quitting or stopping are not options for those students who believe effort is key in improving their intelligence and success. Apparently to those with the “growth mindset”, working hard is not a sign of weakness or vulnerability but rather a way to make oneself more intelligent.

Teachers who promote academic optimism and rigor hold students up to higher expectations. Such teachers ask themselves daily, am I promoting positive thinking in this challenging lesson? Do I better prepare my students emotionally? Am I teaching my students the value of perseverance? A teacher’s mindset and attitude illustrate and set an example for students to follow. The classroom becomes contagious, either for positive progress or negative impediments. Who spread the rumor that success is realized without obstacles and hindrances? Truly, what would success be if you did not have to fight with all the fibers of your being to attain it?

Reference

Duckworth, A., L., Quinn, P., D., (2007) Development and Validation of the Short Grit Scale (Grit–S). Journal of Personality Assessment, Vol.  91(2), (p. 166–174) 

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