How do we teach kids to be gritty enough to succeed?

Today, we’re talking to Paul Tough about grit. What is it? Here’s how it’s explained by one academic study:

We define grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.

One of the researchers on that study, Angela Duckworth, says that grit may be as important as intelligence when it comes to success in school and at work.

To dig deeper, check out the American RadioWorks documentary Grit, Luck and Money.

If you’re a student, parent or teacher, what have you learned about resilience, determination or grit?

Also, how resilient are you?

Take a test.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Jamie

    Why aren’t you doing a longer, so-called “in-depth” segment on voter ID? You’ve been promoting the discussion as though you ARE going to take some time to talk about it, but now I see here that it’s only going to be a small segment. Our democracy is at stake here! A few minutes on the subject is not enough!

  • Jamie

    How can you just quote the pro-amendment side’s estimate of the cost of implementing voter ID as though it’s the truth? Opponents of the amendment have come up with an estimate of the cost, too – before supporters did, I believe. Opponents say it will cost around $50 million dollars, if I remember correctly. We can’t afford this scam whose only real purpose is to suppress Democratic votes.

  • Kristina Mattson

    so how do we teach resilience? I have two small children (2 and 4) and my 4-year-old sometimes gives up easily. my husband and I both experienced adversity as a children which (IMO) shaped our characters. How do I teach this to them without scarring them for life?

  • Susan Bernstein

    Hope I can leave a question for Paul Tough here. I’m coincidentally reading his book right now, and am a big fan of his work, in particular his book about Geoffrey Canada and his work with the Harlem Children’s Zone. My question is how can we apply these lessons of grit and resilience to the lives of children who are growing up in relative comfort? For example, my children have two college-educated parents (with graduate degrees), go to a “safe” public school and are in sports and music classes. How to introduce these ideas to their lives? Don’t know if he has kids but, if so, how does/would he apply his learnings to their lives?

    Thank you! Great show!

  • Kristin Boeshans

    Not being allowed to fail academically means there is NO MEANINGFUL DISCOVERY. I felt like any curiosity was beaten out of me during my secondary education. I found college riveting, because you could argue with your teacher and other students! When you are handed one absolute answer after another, it gets boring! And every student is expected to have the same answer to those questions. But there is so much out there to explore and discover, and we need to start trusting that children will be engaged by questions with no solid answers and learning about what is NOT known as well as what is.

  • Kathleen Parks

    As a grandmother of 5 who is now watching her sons parent, I observe that grit is determined by being consistent /w keeping yourself and your children accountable. For getting chores done: picking up toys before playing outside, saying no even though the other Moms are saying yes, being willing to say Im sorry as a parent and telling a coach your son is not playing b/c son is grounded. Takes courage, grit to parent . Honesty, curiosity, empathy are further qualities parents can foster to build character.

    Parents that fawn over their children’s activities w/o acknowledging their privilege and having their children expect this constant fawning privilege are damaging their children.

    Many of these kids don’t know how to handle a C in a freshman college class. I saw this phenomena repeatedly when I taught at TC private college. These college students had no idea of the working poor and that racism still existed. They came from toni suburbs and were somewhat angry that a professor was inviting them to open themselves to our America..,those w/o the privilege of having parents who are paying their college bill.



    I came here looking for infor about my kids, all i find is OBAMA BASHING, THKAK GOD OBAMA DONT HAVE ROMNESIA!



    I came here looking for infor about my kids, all i find is OBAMA BASHING, THANK GOD OBAMA DONT HAVE ROMNESIA!