Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance…

Peter J. Smith
August 14, 2018

As a teacher, I teach a lot of cognitive skills. These are what one might think of as academic skills: math, history, English and so forth. However, the United States Department of Education thinks that teaching “non-cognitive” skills is just as important.

The skills are called grit, tenacity and perseverance. As the USDOE (2013) puts it, “There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.”

What this means is that students are supposed to be taught to be “resilient in the face of challenge”.  Teachers should make their lesson plans in “a range of proximal learning”.  What this means is that there should be room to grow in a lesson. Making the lesson easy does not promote a challenge. Making the lesson a little harder than your student might understand is a motivational tool. It’s sort of like the “carrot and the stick” metaphor.

If you’re a teacher, do you provide grit, tenacity and perseverance to your lessons? If you’re a student, do you think you are taught grit, tenacity and perseverance?


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I am very interested in Instructional Leadership and change within schools. I have a Bachelor's Degree in English Education and a Master's Degree in Instructional Leadership from Saint Leo University. I currently continue my studies at Saint Leo in the Educational Doctorate program in School Leadership. Whatever innovations I can share with teachers around the globe via cyberspace, I find ways to accomplish that.

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