[FoRK] This is not the Grit you are looking for

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Tue May 10 10:13:27 PDT 2016

Well said.  Previous employer tended to select for services employees
who would persevere despite mediocre products, chaotic support, etc.
-- I have rarely worked with staff that was more stubbornly dedicated.

Did not, however, encourage anyone to be passionate about those
products,and it could be said, actively discouraged that aspect of
"grit" even though it's hard to not become invested in anything that
you work on for 40-60 hrs/week.  Periodically acquiring the next great
thing instead of pursuing enhancement and organic development was
extremely hard on the technical side of the business.  The sales
people usually were happy to have a shiny new set of SKUs to sell,

Ken Meltsner

On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 9:42 AM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> Bad term, poorly understood, misapplied.  The narrow perception and skills
> of educators isn't helping here.
> http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/05/dont-believe-the-hype-about-grit-pleads-the-scientist-behind-the-concept.html?mid=twitter-share-scienceofus
> Here’s the thing: Duckworth completely, totally, absolutely agrees with this
> critique. She would also like to add: It’s missing half thepicture.
> Grit, as Duckworth has defined it in her research, is a combination of
> perseverance and passion — it’s just that the former tends to get all the
> attention, while the latter is overlooked. “I think the misunderstanding —
> or, at least, one of them — is that it’s only the perseverance part that
> matters,” Duckworth told Science of Us. “But I think that the passion piece
> is at least as important. I mean, if you are really, really tenacious and
> dogged about a goal that’s not meaningful to you, and not interesting to you
> — then that’s just drudgery. It’s not just determination — it’s having a
> direction that you careabout.”
> In the case of grit, the enthusiasm for the work-ethic piece of the puzzle
> has outpaced the evidence, and schools across the country are trying to
> apply a concept that still hasn’t had all the kinks quite worked out yet.
> Back to the test score example highlighted by Quillette: That research
> equated conscientiousness with grit, and so the finding that
> conscientiousness didn’t predict higher scores — but IQ did — led to the
> conclusion that grit doesn’t live up to the hype. But this interpretation,
> Duckworth argues, leaves out the equally important other half of grit:
> passion. “That report was about, ‘Well, maybe grit’s not that important,’”
> Duckworth said. “And my thought when I read that was — how many kids who are
> 16 years old are passionate about their standardized reading and math scores
> forschool?”
> Really, the sound of the word /grit/ itself is not helping matters,
> Duckworth pointed out. The word sounds like sweatiness, or dirtiness; it
> brings to mind the unpleasantness of effort. You /grit /your teeth — or, for
> another example, think of the single-minded toughness embodied by the heroes
> in /True Grit/. Grit sounds serious; it does not, on the other hand, sound
> like muchfun.
> As such, perseverance would seem to be the more difficult half of grit: How,
> for instance, do you get students to work harder on their schoolwork? And
> yet Duckworth’s work has found just the opposite: It tends to be the passion
> part of grit that people need more help with. “I find that people’s passion
> scores are lower than their perseverance scores,” Duckworth said. She’s not
> yet sure exactly why this is, but she has a theory. “One possibility is that
> people can learn to work hard and be resilient, but to find something that
> would make you say, ‘This is so interesting to me — I’m so committed to it
> that I’m going to stick with it over years’ — that kind of passion may, in
> some ways, be harder to comeby.”
> The consequences of hasty applications of grit in an educational context are
> not yet clear, but Duckworth can imagine them. To be sure, it’s not that she
> faults these educators — in many ways, she says, these are the best in the
> field, the ones who are /most /excited about trying innovative new ways of
> helping their students succeed. But by placing too much emphasis on grit,
> the danger is “that grit becomes a scapegoat — another reason to blame kids
> for not doing well, or to say that we don’t have a responsibility as a
> society to help them.” She worries that some interpretations of her work
> might make a student’s failure seem like /his /problem, as if he just didn’t
> work hard enough. “I think to separate and pit against each other character
> strengths on the one hand — like grit — and situational opportunities on the
> other is a false dichotomy,” she said. “Kids need to develop character, /and
> /they need our support in doingso.”
> sdw
> --
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