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Resiliency – Developing Gritty Kids

The term “grit” may bring back memories for people aged 50 or older.  The magazine of that name was fairly commonplace and known for its practical advice for rural and small town life.  Grit, the magazine still exists and the concept of grit which experts define as “persistence, determination and resilience”, is getting renewed interest in both academia and the workplace.

A recent story on National Public Radio says grit has been linked to being a greater indicator of success than an individual’s IQ. In the NPR.org story “Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead?”, Tovia Smith explores the implications of “grit” and how it is affecting children today.

“Grit”, which was coined by Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is described as the “je ne sais quoi that drives one kid to practice trumpet or study Spanish for hours — or years — on end, while another quits after the first setback.”

The ability to excel in math and science is great and all, but where do the life lessons come in to play? The Obama Administration and the Department of Education have also expressed concern that kids are learning to “do school,” but aren’t learning the skills they need in life. But the bigger question still remains – “Can grit be learned?”

Many schools have begun to experiment with students’ abilities to learn this skill. “They see the promise of the concept as too great to wait”.

Intellectual Virtues Academy has been launched by Jason Baehr, philosophy professor at Loyola Marymount University, to a charter middle school in Long Beach, California. This school has become a guinea pig for “grit” teachings, as well as other teachings such as intellectual courage and curiosity. According to Baehr “…from our experience in the school, I see [kids learning to be grittier] all the time. … You can create a classroom culture in which struggle and risk-taking is valued more than just getting the right answer”.

These ideas are just as crucial among adult workers who must be gritty in a fast-paced workplace and changing economy.  The TRACOM Group has been conducting research on resiliency and offers training courses and a resiliency assessment.  TRACOM’s Resiliency Model identifies nine elements of resiliency and six strategies for developing resiliency skills.

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