Education was founded on the archaic-sounding idea of "spreading civilization." To that end, it had three goals: learning, morality, and citizenship. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth about our present test-focused system, and many of the complaints happen to be correct. The system generally ignores the two old-fashioned goals of morality and citizenship. (They are now often referred to with the hilariously obtuse label, the "non-cognitive" effects.)
The founders of the excellent, pioneering KIPP charter schools noticed that many of their students were not graduating from college despite having the academic chops to do so. A whole New York Times story later, they realized that the students lacked important "non-cognitive" traits and adopted one in particular, "grit."
Grit is a modern rebranding of an old term; essentially it is a mixture of resilience, determination, and perseverance. The history of its synonyms traces the history of the education of "non-cognitive" traits. Perseverance and resilience have been extensively studied by psychologists and were cornerstones of the various "character" education movements through the twentieth century. In the nineteenth century and the colonial era, grit would have been known as "long-suffering."
Whatever the word, it is an important idea. Here are three easy ways, ripped from the pages of From Rebel to Ruler, to improve your students' grittiness (and other important "non-cognitive" traits):
If you want more activities like these, to help you turn your rebellious teenagers into worthy leaders, click here.
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