I'm a huge twitter user - as a space for professional learning, sharing, focused searches for desired content, or connecting with a network of folks who you get to choose - twitter has added a new dimension to learning for me. If you are looking for new ideas about just about anything, twitter is the place to be. Where a website is a place to share out ideas, and facebook is about seeing where your friends went on their holidays, twitter is the space where you can find articles, resources, videos, from a huge number of people all gently brought to your attention in one place. If you are not connected to twitter yet, I would suggest you stop reading right now and sign up - you can follow me there at @RoyStrum
One of the videos I watched today from a twitter feed was 'The Key to Success: Grit' by Angela Lee Duckworth. Success in life, she shares, is much more than just being able to learn quickly and easily.
Duckworth shares that success comes to those who have grit. She describes grit as:
- passion and perseverance for very long term goals
- having stamina
- thinking about the future
- working really hard to make the future a reality
Grit, she shares, is living life like its a marathon not a sprint. Grittier kids, she notes from her research, are significantly more likely to graduate from high school. This is especially true for kids who are at risk of dropping out of school.
Asafa Powell is a Jamaican world champion sprinter. His story is a good one to look at when thinking about grit.
So if grit is so darned important, there must be volumes of research and shelves full of books about how to teach this skill to children. The fact is, Duckworth shares, that it is shocking how very little we know about building grit. Especially, in light of her research that shows that grit is often unrelated or inversely related to talent. I will say that again, because it is a big idea - grit is often unrelated or inversely related to talent. The implications of this idea are huge and we've seen this in action alot. It isnt always the young athlete who learns something easiest and quickest who ends up persevering in our sport. Sadly, the reality is, that if you are an early developer or show lots of early talent, its almost your destiny to fade away by your mid teens. I hear it all the time - 'oh just wait, those early developers will drop out by the time physical maturation or skill development levels out.
How do we do this - teach grit. Duckworth says we need to be gritty about making kids gritty. What does that look like when coaching adolescent cross country skiers. This is a good question and one you might have a number of own ideas about. For me, its about providing a 'growth mindset' environment - one where Carol Dueck's ideas that when failure happens, people with a growth mindset see that the ability to learn is not fixed - when failure happens learning is possible. For me, its about framing and reinforcing effort. Its about helping young people to set challenging goals for themselves, and too create a space where kids can see themselves achieving something important to them. Grit is about not giving up. Grit is about seeing setback or achievement as a stepping stone to the next set of goals. Grit is a skill that is learnable. Grit is something that can be modeled by coaches. Grit is a key to success. The challenge for us coaches is to be gritty in our role as teachers of grit.