Bruno: Teachers Need Grit To Resist Grit Fad
"Grit" - the tendency of a person to persevere through the difficult process of attaining a long-term goal - has become popular among educators recently who view it as one of those "non-cognitive" skills that, if properly instilled, can help students succeed in school and in life.
Over the last few weeks Peter Meyer has written a couple of very good essays summarizing why the educational significance of "grit" is probably overstated. You should read them both, but the bottom line is that while grit is certainly good to have, persistence is helpful largely because it facilitates the development and utilization of conventional cognitive abilities.
In other words, educators excited about developing students' grit tend to underestimate how important it will be for those students to acquire large amounts of factual knowledge.
Unfortunately, this tendency to underestimate the importance of knowledge is all too common. In fact, it often seems like many educators are constantly on the lookout for any excuse to teach students fewer facts about the world.
Grit might be the current flavor of the month, but at various times that spot has been occupied by "21st century skills", "social-emotional intelligence", or "inquiry skills", among others.
Those educational fads are in many respects very different, but they are unified by at least one striking trait: they are all based on or encourage the belief that knowing things about the world is consistently overvalued in education and may not be necessary at all.
Why so many educators are so eager to minimize or do away with knowledge in education is hard to know. It might have to do with an intuition that facts are somehow pedestrian or banal. Or it may be that because education has been mostly about knowledge for millennia it seems long overdue for innovation of some kind.
But whatever the reason, education is constantly bouncing from one shiny object to another these days, chasing a series of silver bullets that promise to solve our educational woes by replacing knowledge with...something.