Parents and teachers alike have been on a never-ending search for what it is that will make their children and students successful. The problem is, pinpointing that characteristic has been much harder than one would think.
Although it seems instinctively obvious, the truth is that intelligence is actually a poor predictor of performance and overall future success. Your brightest child may not perform particularly well, meanwhile the average child may grind through every project or assessment until they have once again found themselves near the top of the class.
What is it that creates this dynamic? ...... Grit.
Grit may be synonymous with perseverance in regards to definition, but it holds greater meaning because of the feeling it inspires; hard-work, pushing through challenges, learning from failure, relentless work ethic, and toughness. It is this singular characteristic that consistently determines which children (and adults) will be successful. Children need to push through difficult scenarios and gain the understanding that the greatest learning comes out of the greatest challenges. All too often, children and adults are too quick to come to the conclusion that a task is beyond them, too difficult, too confusing, or something not worth their effort. This is a mindset that needs to be explicitly discussed with children in order to move them past a fixed idea of what they can do, and into a growth-mindset where they can persevere when things get tough.
Reframing failure for children is key in this process of fostering grit and perseverance. Actively creating a new idea of failure as opportunity may not be easy, but it sets the foundation for the development of grit from a very early age. Not sure where to start? Attempt to build a Rube Goldberg machine with your students or children. Success will grow out of failures… if you’re gritty.
Check out Angela Lee Duckworth discussing the idea of grit and growth-mindset below.