As a teacher I have been participating in our schools professional development classes. We are learning how to apply and develop the 21st century learning concepts into our classrooms. Basically we are learning new ways to teach our students life skills that will develop from the content we are teaching them during class. I am sure you have thought to yourself at one time or another, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” We are learning as teachers how to answer this legitimate question.

I believe as teachers we should always be aware of the underlying knowledge we are attempting to impart in the minds of our students. Math teachers are not just teaching equations but how to use logic in real life situations. English teachers are not just teaching punctuation but how to communicate verbally, as well as through the written word. Science teachers are not just teaching the scientific method but how to question, analyze and understand a situation more clearly. History teachers are not just teaching about stories from the past, but how to learn from our failures and our successes for the future. Theology teachers are not just studying religion but forming a faith relationship with God.

One of the ideas from the newest concept from Tony Waggner called “Deeper Learning” which is an offset of 21st century learning skills; is a concept called “academic mindset”. Basically it is a student’s mindset that believes they can and will succeed, they reflect on their strengths as well as weaknesses, they try to build a community of academic learning, they also understand how to transfer that content to their future with an idea of the purpose of the underlying knowledge and they will not give up until they have succeeded. This last concept is referred to as grit.

We listened to an NPR video clip that talked about the new buzzword in education: “grit”. What is grit? Grit is defined as the indomitable (incapable of being overcome, unconquerable) spirit. This report said that grit is a greater predicator of the success of a student in college than their ACT score. Believe me, I am living proof of it! I took the ACT test twice and only scored an 18, yet I graduated Cum Laude with a 3.65. I may not have been blessed with the most intelligence but I worked hard every day to do my homework, study my notes, listen attentively to everyone of my teachers and give 100% to my education.

My goal when I entered college was to NEVER cut a class, to always make the Dean’s List, and to graduate in four years with honors. I did all three but none of them were easy to do. I had to avoid the temptation of hanging out with my friends who blew off their classes, work diligently on my classes while working a part time job and take summer classes to graduate in four years. I did not succeed because of my ACT scores. I succeeded because I have grit. I NEVER give up. I am a writer, a motivational speaker, a retreat leader, a teacher and a mom because I have grit.

The question is can we teach grit? I think we can as teachers and as parents. We need to allow our children to fail at times so that they can learn to pick themselves back up and be resilient. We need to teach our students how to recognize their weaknesses and find ways to overcome them. We need to teach our students to NEVER give up and that hard work will reap rewards. We need to teach our children to be goal oriented and to strive for the goals they have set for themselves.

Do you have grit? Are you teaching your children how to have grit? Something this generation truly needs is to learn how to fall down and get back up on their own, how to be motivated from within and how to never give up! Are we ready as parents and teachers to start teaching this trait?

2014 Copyright Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp