Students in today’s society are facing more challenges than ever before. These challenges, nonetheless, force them to be percervent. Grit is a term that is commonly used to describe a person’s character. It can be used to define men, women, children, ect. This begs the question; what is grit? How do people develop it? Why is it so important? These are questions that do not have one clear answer. They depend heavily on the population in which you are focused on and the context of the situation. For the purpose of this essay, grit in teenage highschoolers will be defined, in an effort to more clearly illustrate how grit directly correlates to the success of a student and success later on in life. Above all, in defining grit, we can understand how overcoming challenges develops this trait in young people.
“Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential,” Caren Baruch-Feldman, PhD and author of The Grit Guide For Teens explains. “Grit is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute. Grit is a character trait that is acquired rather than learned. The experiences a young person has in their early years are likely to determine whether or not they develop grit. A student exhibiting this trait will not allow predetermined conditions or circumstances to hinder their performance. For example, working long hours, unfavorable studying environment, low household income, and learning disabilities are all factors that may discourage a student without grit. Grit does not diminish over time. In college, the workplace, and for the years to come, this individual will continue to be a diligent hard worker. A student with the type of grit we are analyzing, will overcome any challenges they may face to achieve success in all aspects of life.
It’s important to mention that grit does not directly correlate to high grades and test scores. Likewise, high grades and test scores do not correlate to grit. In fact, many students who make these academic achievements lack grit the most. Commonly, it’s the average students or those who struggle with their studies who must adapt grit as a mechanism. The naturally gifted and talented students often achieve these high grades without little to any effort being applied. Students with learning disabilities such as ADHD, dyslexia, ect are more likely to fit the mold of having grit, as the result of a more challenging educational career. Overcoming adversities like this as a teen will only make the individual that much more prepared for the future. When defining grit in this context, it is often associated with those who fit the “underdog” role opposed to the gleaming, perfect, straight-a student.
The term grit is most commonly associated with overcoming obstacles and unfortunate circumstances. In reference to students, an individual growing up in a perfectly stable household is less likely to develop grit since they face less adversity. Those who grow up in poverty, broken homes, single parent homes, or abusive homes must expel much more effort just to accomplish what the student from the stable home did. Also, students in these households commonly don’t have access to adequate tutoring, technology, or necessary school supplies. This alone demands the individual to be perseverent. In 2016, many low income schools across the country began installing programs that taught grit to their elementary students. “Here, though, is the fundamental problem with the notion that the importance of grit has to do with bettering the chances of disadvantaged students. Children raised in poverty display ample amounts of grit every day, and they don’t need more of it in school,” Ethan Ris, doctoral candidate in education at Stanford University expresses. Students from these lower income areas face challenges that many others never will. When these elementary students become young adults, the grit they’ve developed will continue to aid them in the workplace and beyond. Meanwhile, the higher income students most likely won’t have the same crucial experience. Grit, in this sense, is not commonly used to describe someone with an easy past.
In addition to challenges at home, many high school students work during the school year. This introduces them to a whole new way of life. The student must now learn how to balance school and work while maintaining other aspects of their life. A survey of students at the Manchester Metropolitan University demonstrated that a larger population of students are working while in school, than ever before. Although these students do believe their grades would be a little higher if they weren’t working, they are being benefited in the long run. “There are adverse effects on study in the form of missed lectures, and students’ perceptions are that coursework grades are lower than they would have been had they not been working. Nevertheless, students highlight the benefits of working, which are not only monetary but include the development of skills, greater understanding of the world of business and an increase in confidence, all of which are advantageous to their studies, both at the present time and in the future,” Susan Curtis & Najah Shani with the Journal of Further and Higher Education report. Not only will these skills help students develop and integrate grit into their lives, they will be better prepared for their future work environment. This is a perfect example of grit being applied to the real world.
As we consider all the possible meanings of a word, it’s evident that context is always important. Grit in athletes vs business professionals will take completely different forms. Likewise, grit instilled in students is very specific. These individuals learn, through their experiences, that the magnitude of their actions and decisions. More specifically, the students that overcome more challenges while pursuing their education are most likely to develop the kind of grit being focused on. Typically, these students will go on to have successful fulfilling lives. By defining what constitutes as “student grit” it’s easier to understand the effects of this phenomenon.
Strauss, Valerie. “The Problem with Teaching ‘Grit’ to Poor Kids? They Already Have It. Here’s What They Really Need.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 Apr. 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/10/the-problem-with-teaching-grit-to-poor-kids-they-already-have-it-heres-what-they-really-need/.
“The Effect of Taking Paid Employment During Term-Time on Students’ Academic Studies.” Taylor & Francis, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03098770220129406?src=recsys. “What Is Grit, and Why Is It Important?” NewHarbinger.com, 3 Oct. 2017, http://www.newharbinger.com/blog/what-grit-and-why-it-important.