Grit is one of the latest buzzwords in education. What is it, though?
every child needs to encounter frustration and failure to learn to step back, reassess, and try again—and again. It surely seems odd and perhaps heartless to create scenarios in which students are not successful, but how can they learn to overcome adversity if they haven’t experienced it?
I find that for some students, taking my online Professional Writing course is a semester-long exercise in adversity:
- passwords are forgotten
- assignments are forgotten
- files won’t upload
- learning curves are steep and short
- grammar counts
- perfect scores on writing-intensive assignments are rare
Most of all, many students are incredibly uncomfortable with not being told exactly what to do and how to do it, step by step. They don’t want “to encounter frustration and failure” beyond a few attempts. They want to get the work out of the way as quickly as possible. This is understandable, because they’re busy, with jobs and families and other courses…but is it good education in the long run?
I didn’t create the class to be an unsuccessful scenario, but success definitely depends on the individual student’s tenacity. It’s all too easy to blow off an online course with an almost-all-work-due-at-the-end policy…and then there’s really no time to learn from mistakes, because the deadline has passed.
How do you react when your deadline is 30 hours away and you still have 80% of the assignments to complete? If you have grit, you buckle down and slog through as best you can. You accept that maybe, just maybe, the assignments are meant to challenge you. You recognize that you might not get everything done, but man, you’re gonna try.
Interested in learning more about instilling grit in yourself and students? Check out Vicki Davis’s Edutopia blog entry from earlier in 2014.