education | March 28, 2016

Why ‘Grit’ Shouldn’t Be Graded: Angela Duckworth’s March NYT Op-Ed

Last week, psychology professor and education speaker Angela Duckworth wrote an op-ed in The New York Times addressing a problematic trend in education accountability systems—and one she worries that she may have contributed to, however inadvertently.

Educators are now seeing the value in teaching emotional and social skills in school—a shift that acknowledges Duckworth’s groundbreaking research into the ways that grit, self-control, and perseverance can predict success in school, and beyond. And educators are constantly honing the ways we teach and assess character strengths based on ongoing experimentation. As such, Duckworth is “heartened” to see our “narrow focus on standardized achievement test scores ... [give] way to a broader, more enlightened perspective.” But we shouldn’t be punishing or rewarding schools based on how students score on these tests—as recent legislation has implied, and as some schools have done. In other words, Duckworth argues, “we’re nowhere near ready—and perhaps never will be—to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools.” 

“Does character matter, and can character be developed?” she asks. “Science and experience unequivocally say yes. Can the practice of giving feedback to students on character be improved? Absolutely. Can scientists and educators work together to cultivate students’ character? Without question.

Should we turn measures of character intended for research and self-discovery into high-stakes metrics for accountability? In my view, no.”

For the whole story, be sure to read the full NYT piece. And you can now pre-order Duckworth’s first (and long-awaited) book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, a work about “what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.” Grit arrives in bookstores in early May from Scribner.

In her keynotes, Duckworth explains what makes gritty individuals different from others, and shares her belief that grit “can be instilled and cultivated by anyone, anywhere, and at any time in life.” To book education speaker Angela Duckworth for your next keynote event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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motivational | March 27, 2016