Sunday, September 29, 2013

Grit: Interesting Article Summaries, Provided by Ruffing Parent's Digest

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger?" Yes, this is what they are talking about...GRIT.  As we round the corner into the October MLB Postseason, what a great time to talk about this character trait!

I know you are probably thinking, "How does she have the time to blog about this random stuff?" Well, if you saw the Himalaya-size mountain of laundry sitting on my bed right now, you would understand.  Clearly, something (else) has GOT to give...

I wanted to share some interesting article summaries provided in our Ruffing Parent's Digest, a quarterly publication for our school community.  It features highlights and summaries of interesting education and parenting related articles, provided through collaboration between John McNamara, (Principal) and Vincent O'Keefe (Parent Resources Coordinator).  

I am a self-proclaimed geek when it comes to reading about this stuff.  However, I find such topics endlessly fascinating.  At the risk of article-information-sharing overload, I wanted to share with other parents who may be interested as well.  The following summaries about 'Grit' are particularly insightful...It reminded me of a great quotation by Winston Churchill I discovered and recently shared via FB...

Ultimately, this is an interesting topic, and one I would love to learn more about, in terms of how children learn this skill.  I cannot think of anything more helpful for succeeding (if not merely surviving) through life's challenges, from school, sports, career, to relationships, etc., than this core character trait.

Links to full articles are provided at the end of each summary.

II. Grit

SUMMARY: “Failure Makes You a Winner.” By Christine Carter

            Christine Carter explains that recent psychological research has found “grit” to be “one of the best predictors of elite performance, whether in the classroom or in the workforce. Defined by researchers as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals,’ grit gives us the strength to cope with a run-of-the-mill bad day (or week or season) as well as with trauma or crisis.”

            Surprisingly, “grit predicts performance better than IQ or innate talent.” Grit is less a personality trait and more a “facet of a person’s character that is developed like any other skill. . . humans develop grit by encountering difficulty and learning to cope with it.”

            Carter continues that “grandmaster chess players, great athletes, scientific geniuses, and celebrated artists learn, in part, by losing, making mistakes, and failing.” She uses a well-known quotation from basketball legend Michael Jordan to illustrate her point. Jordan, who was actually cut from his high school basketball team before achieving glory, declares: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

To read the full text of this blog post dated May 20, 2013, see Christine Carter is also the author of Raising Happiness: Science for Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.

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SUMMARY: “Angela Duckworth and the Research on ‘Grit.’” By Emily Hanford

Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been conducting research on a personal quality called “grit,” which she defines as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” She explains that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”

Duckworth’s research suggests that “when it comes to high achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence.” This is a significant finding because intelligence has long been considered central to success; that’s why it has been measured so carefully over the years. A growing area of psychology research, however, is attempting to measure “what are loosely called ‘noncognitive skills.’ The goal is to identify and measure the various skills and traits other than intelligence that contribute to human development and success.”

Research on intelligence has been inconclusive in many ways. For example, there are many intelligent people “who aren’t high achievers, and there are people who achieve a lot without having the highest test scores.” In fact, one of Duckworth’s studies found that “smarter students actually had less grit that their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test.” The study suggests that students with lower test scores “compensate by working harder and with more determination.” And that work paid off: “The grittiest students--not the smartest ones--had the highest GPAs.”

In a study conducted at West Point, the elite U. S. military academy, grit was the best predictor of success in its rigorous summer training program. In fact, “grit mattered more than intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness.” At the Scripps National Spelling Bee, “the grittiest contestants were the most likely to advance to the finals--at least in part because they studied longer, not because they were smarter or were better spellers.”

Related to education, Duckworth believes “grit is something people can probably learn. . . She says every human quality that has been studied has proven to be affected at least in part by a person’s environment--even intelligence.”

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