Poking through my RSS feed reader last weekend, I stumbled across an article on the Mindshift blog that got me thinking about the role that grit — the ability to persevere even in the face of adversity and failure — plays in the success of today’s learners:

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The piece details the work of Angela Duckworth — a psychology professor and former middle school math teacher — who has spent the better part of the past several years trying to figure out whether or not gritty people are more successful than their peers.

Having spent the better part of my own life reveling in my own grit — which, given my decidedly average intellect, is the only reason I ever succeed — I didn’t really need Duckworth’s study to help me determine whether or not determination matters.

Persistent people always outperform their similarly gifted peers.


But here’s the thing: Intellectual persistence — at least in the kinds of tasks that still seem to define successful people — doesn’t seem to be a priority for today’s kids.  

Spend an hour in a teacher workroom and I GUARANTEE you’ll hear at least one conversation about students who “are too lazy to bother to try” or who are “driving teachers nuts because they’re turning in junk.” Missing work lists grow longer — and lists of volunteers for challenging clubs like Science Olympiad or Quiz Bowl grow shorter — by the year.

Heck, I’m not even sure that intellectual persistence is a priority for ME anymore.

I find myself flitting from major project to major project all the time, rarely following through on anything for very long.  My mind wanders almost constantly simply because in a world where I’m literally surrounded by opportunities for constant distraction, it CAN.

I catch myself skim reading more than ever before — or worse yet, navigating away from anything that seems intimidating at first glance.  Who am I kidding, y’all: I didn’t even read the entire Mindshift bit that started this post.  Got through the first three paragraphs and moved on to something else.

Does this sound familiar to anyone besides me?  And more importantly, is it a trend that’s worth worrying about?

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