The Key to Success? Grit – TED Talk with Angela Lee Duckworth

“Grit” is currently a popular buzzword in education. I’ve often seen the term bandied about but what does it mean? Angela Duckworth, one of the foremost pioneers of research on grit and what it means for success in school and in life, outlines the basic concept in her TED Talk:

In the SMARTS program, we use the term “persistence” instead of grit, and, like Duckworth, we have found that a student’s level of persistence is a better predictor of success in school than their raw academic talent.

Likewise, we believe that grit (or persistence) can be taught. We have found that teaching students executive function strategies can have a dramatic impact on their persistence. It makes sense. When students fail over and over again and see no path to success, they are more likely to give up. But when we teach students strategies and help them see that there are different paths to success, we are teaching them that persistence pays off. While the substance of the strategies is important (whether it’s a note-taking strategy or a test-taking strategy), the most valuable takeaway is this: When we teach students strategies, we are teaching students that there is always an alternate road to success.

Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager