Grit is defined by Google as “strength of character”. Researcher Angela Duckworth has dedicated her career to proving how grit trumps talent and intelligence when gaging success in our students (I would highly recommend her book!) But how do we teach something as abstract as grit?
I would suggest read-alouds. As I have written in a previous blog post, read-alouds allow for these important character-building moments in the classroom. A great book to discuss grit through is, “I Am Malala”, the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who was attacked by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15. Through her extreme obstacles, Malala regained her health and continued to fight for women’s right to an education in her country, becoming the youngest person in history (she was only 17 years old) to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Malala’s story is a story of grit, filled with examples of her persevering through the most difficult challenges; not by intelligence or talent, but her drive to not give up. Malala’s story is about a kid who was able to make her mark on the world and it’s a story that many students, especially those coming from war-torn countries, can relate to, too.
Our students come from all walks of life, from every point on the Earth, and their stories and experiences often go unheard. Children can adopt a fixed mindset or defeatist attitude when they feel unheard; and if we allow this to fester, their grit is diminished. These moments of shared reading can lead to open discussions where they will not only be able to express their connections to stories like Malala’s but hopefully realize that if there are children just like them making it through the most outrageous of situations, they can get through their challenges as well. Show them that grit is cool, grit is tough, and grit will lead them to success.