from the Ask-John-Wayne dept.
Anna North writes in the NYT that self-control, curiosity, and “grit” may seem more personal than academic, but at some schools, they’re now part of the regular curriculum. Some researchers say personality could be even more important than intelligence when it comes to students’ success in school. “We probably need to start rethinking our emphasis on intelligence,” says Arthur E. Poropat citing research that shows that both conscientiousness and openness are more highly correlated with student performance than intelligence. “This isn’t to say that we should throw intelligence out, but we need to pull back on thinking that this is the only game in town.” The KIPP network of charter schools emphasizes grit along with six other “character strengths,” including self-control and curiosity. “We talk a lot about them as being skills or strengths, not necessarily traits, because it’s not innate," says Leyla Bravo-Willey. “If a child happens to be very gritty but has trouble participating in class, we still want them to develop that part of themselves.”
But the focus on character has encountered criticism. “To begin with, not everything is worth doing, let alone doing for extended periods, and not everyone who works hard is pursuing something worthwhile” says Alfie Kohn. "On closer inspection, the concept of grit turns out to be dubious, as does the evidence cited to support it. Persistence can actually backfire and distract from more important goals." There’s other evidence that grit isn’t always desirable. Gritty people sometimes exhibit what psychologists call “nonproductive persistence”: They try, try again, says Dean MacFarlin though the result may be either unremitting failure or “a costly or inefficient success that could have been easily surpassed by alternative courses of action,”