I recently heard a radio program about “grit” featuring Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 2013. She was saying that her research showed that the number one thing that contributed towards students’ success is “grit,” which she described as “the disposition to pursue very long term goals with passion and perseverance.” This would include stamina, sticking with it, and working hard at it. Living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You can listen to it here:
She gives students a “grit questionnaire” including their ranking of the statements:
- I am a hard worker
- I finish whatever I begin
- Setbacks don’t discourage me
- I don’t give up after disappointment
- I am diligent
She has also found no correlation between natural ability and grit. Just because you have natural talent at something does not mean you have grit. I would say it also does not mean you will succeed. With natural talent and grit, perhaps.
To build grit in kids, you have to give them a growth mindset: the “belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, it can change with your effort. . . . When kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.” So we need to educate our children about brain science, encourage them to accept a challenge, and teach them that failure is on the route to success.
“People should learn to be excellent in the thing that they choose to do,” Duckworth says. At the Greenville Ballet School, we couldn’t agree more. So whether that “excellent” thing ends up being ballet, or something else, we hope that we have put them on the path to grow mentally, have grit, and be excellent in whatever they do.We challenge students’ brains and bodies, show them that failure is a way to learn, help them see that they are growing slowly but surely, encourage perseverance, and look forward to success. Grit makes us come back day after day and continue the struggle towards the unattainable goal of classical perfection. Get your child on this track today . . enroll here.