Second Thoughts on Grit

Romare Beardon
Romare Beardon

There has been discussion lately on Twitter about whether or not “grit” is a healthy trait to focus on in the classroom. After reading the definition of grit, it would appear that any adult would want this trait associated with a child- courage and resolve; strength of character. But the debate isn’t about the definition of the word. It’s about how educators see grit, in its various forms, across cultures and socio-economic groups.

Educators bring their own understanding of grit to the classroom. According to a survey of teachers in 2011, 84% of teachers in the U.S. were white. (National Center for Education Information) The grit that most of this group has lived was born out of privilege and the message that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they work hard enough. Never mind the open doors along the way. Many of our students of color or students of poverty could give us entirely new lessons on what they know about grit.

A new vision: Romare Beardon was well known for his wonderful collages. Collage is artwork that is an assemblage of different forms thus creating a new whole. A perfect description of what we need to model in our classrooms and that takes more than one form of grit.

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