Professional Learning for staff at the Tasmanian eSchool recently has focussed on developing an understanding of the Grit and Growth Mindset theoretical constructs made famous through the bestselling books by Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck.
We have investigated how these ‘big ideas’ can support our work as teachers, specifically how we can employ a growth mindset and a shared language to improve our own teaching and how we can develop a growth mindset/grit philosophy in our students. This has been very important for our students where barriers to learning range from; disability to rural and regional isolation and low socioeconomic status.
A key misconception in our world is the notion of natural talent and ability and ‘you either have it or you don’t’. Take Michael Phelps for example, winner of 23 Olympic gold medals, people will tell you he’s a ‘natural’ and ‘born to swim’. Sure there are some genetic predispositions to be an elite swimmer but how many people will talk to you about the hours spent developing mastery in his sport and the hours spent following the black line on the bottom of the pool in the early hours of the morning.
Education is not free from this train of thought, Duckworth writes, “If we overemphasise talent we under emphasise everything else.” One of the key messages from Grit is that effort counts twice. If we take the viewpoint that everyone has some level of talent in a chosen field if we then employ effort to improve that talent we will see some skill develop and again if we then employ more effort in honing this skill this is how we see achievement.
For our work as educators, for our students and for anything that’s worth working at and improving on then effort is required to achieve success.