Grit has been a pretty popular buzzword in education these past few years. The concept isn’t exactly new. Perseverance, willingness to learn, passion, positively dealing with adversity—these are all characteristics that we typically associate with good students, and people for that matter. While we may have anecdotally known this for a while, scientific research is now demonstrating that grit, along with a suite of characteristics known as character strengths, serve as essential tools that can help students develop the skills they need to flourish inside (and out) of the classroom.
Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. Duckworth’s first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, debuted May 3, 2016, as an immediate New York Times bestseller. Duckworth studies grit and self-control, two character strengths that are distinct from IQ and yet powerfully predict success and well-being.
She recently visited Phillips Academy to talk about her research and present to the community. Before hitting the stage Duckworth sat down with History & Social Science Instructor and Tang Institute Fellow Noah Rachlin to dive deeper into her thesis.
Informed by research in the field, Noah Rachlin is now in his fourth year of leading an effort supported by the Tang Institute that helps students and teachers see mistakes not as impenetrable roadblocks, but as natural parts of the learning process. Rachlin’s work is one of a number of diverse campus initiatives that seek to emphasize dimensions of character development in teaching and learning at Phillips Academy. Cross-cutting initiatives include student leadership training and residential life practices led by the Dean of Students office, conversations about teaching and learning convened by the Dean of Studies and department chairs, the development of our Empathy, Balance, and Inclusion Curriculum, a variety of initiatives growing out of the Brace Center for Gender Studies, the Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) office, the Tang Institute, the Academic Skills Center, and many others on campus.