Is Grit the Golden Ticket?

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 2.02.20 PM.pngDeveloping grit in students appears to be the golden ticket to higher retention and increased student goal attainment.

As we welcome the new semester of 2016, adult education programs enter the new semester with classes full of excited students only to find participation dwindling by mid-February. Grit and the idea of helping students build resiliency sounds like the ideal answer.

Role models and road maps are incredibly important. Helping students become aware of the ‘soft-skills’ needed to be successful in school or the workplace certainly has value in the teaching / learning environment. This is why grit is so widely accepted as the solution. The Grit Scales created by Angela Duckworth turns non-cognitive skills into measurable and teachable outcomes. However, while grit and an open mindset can be a starting point for student / teacher conversations, these ideas do not convey the students’ entire story. Grit fails to take into consideration social, economic, and racial injustice often experineced by students marganized in society.

Grit and an open mindset are not the solution to student retention. Teaching strategies related to perseverance can lead to some positive outcomes. The reality of student motivation, perseverance, and goal achievement is a complex combination of grit, emotion, environment, and social justice.

There is no single solution to student retention. Understanding the role of grit and the deliberate development of an open mindest only work when combined with relevant instructionand and advocacy for social justice and an absense of ‘victim blaming’ for students’ who lack the qualities identified as valuable in the grit scale and open mindset.

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