Last week’s blog covered some of my thoughts connected with Martin Seligman’s book, Flourish, and connections I made to coaching. I had an opportunity this week to explore another element from Seligman’s work with members of a middle school staff: Chapter 6 in Flourish… Self Control, Character and Grit presents a formula:
Achievement = Skill x Effort which aligns with my formula in Tapping Student Effort
Effort x Ability = Success.
Seligman spells out how a character of self- disciple is a greater predictor of academic success than is IQ. The ultimate self-discipline character is GRIT… the never-yielding form of self- discipline, an extreme persistence that produces very high effort.
“The more GRIT you have, the more time you spend on the task, and all those hours don’t just add to whatever innate skill you have: they multiply your progress to the goal.” (page 121)
I asked the middle school staff to examine this quote from the work of Angela Lee Duckworth, a student and colleague of Seligman.
“Under achievement among American youth is often blamed on inadequate teachers, boring textbooks, and large class sizes. We suggest another reason for falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline. We believe that many of America’s children have trouble making choices that require them to sacrifice short term pleasure for long- term gain, and that programs that build self-discipline may be the royal road to building academic achievement”(Psychological Science 16(2005):939-44)
You can listen to Duckworth’s TED presentation on Grit here or complete the Grit Survey yourself. When looking at the research of 90 /90/ 90 schools (90% poverty, 90% minority and 90% of the students scoring proficient) it strikes me that educator GRIT is a key. I wonder how that educator behavior might generate increased student GRIT.
How does a school look to increase student self -discipline? What kind of self –discipline would create the student achievement that we seek? The middle school group that I was working with is interested in exploring changes that move students from compliance, “What do I have to do to pass, or get an A, or finish?” to students setting goals and practicing identifying and committing to “what it takes to achieve it”.