Monday, July 6, 2015

Modern Day Calvinisim, II: predicting grit

In the modern Edworld, the "Elected" are graced not with godliness, but with grit. It is they, the Grit-Graced, who will thrive in the world to come, the Brave New World of 21st Century Skills.

But who are these modern-day Elected?

As it turns out, it's just a matter of time before the Higher Powers of the Edworld will be able to tell us. As a recent article in Edweek reports:

The nation's premiere federal testing program is poised to provide a critical window into how students' motivation, mindset, and grit can affect their learning.  
Evidence has been building for years that these so-called noncognitive factors play a role in whether children succeed both academically and socially. Now, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often dubbed the "nation's report card," is working to include measures of these factors in the background information collected with the tests beginning in 2017.
So important are these "non-cognitive factors" that, according to Chris Gabrieli, described in Edweek as "an adjunct lecturer with the Transforming Education project at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a co-founder of the National Center on Time and Learning in Boston,"
Teachers self-report spending 10 percent of their teaching time on noncognitive skills. That's more time than students spend on any subject other than English and math—more than they spend on arts...
No matter that even Angela Duckworth, grit's coiner-in-chief, has said publicly that no one knows how to teach grit:
Every day, parents and teachers ask me, "How do I build grit in kids? What do I do to teach kids a solid work ethic? How do I keep them motivated for the long run?" The honest answer is, I don't know.
So let's keep being honest.

And let's see this gambit for what it really is: yet another instance of the Edworld (like the Autism World) taking the easiest course, and assessing what it doesn't know how to teach instead of teaching what it does (or should), yes, know how to teach.


SteveH said...

Let's calibrate this. How much grit is needed for children to learn to tie their shoes? How much grit is needed to learn adds and subtracts to 20 in first grade? How about fluency in fractions by sixth grade? Was grit the problem when many bright kids in my son's fifth grade EM class still did not know the times table?

What, exactly, is the problem? Some look to NAEP or PISA even though the statistical level of learning that would cause extreme happiness in the hearts of educators is really low. It's definitely not STEM level. Forget the fact that those who might have STEM potential (using grit or not) don't get that curriculum by definition. Forget the fact that education is about maximizing individual opportunities, not raising statistical averages.

When has grit gone from something needed to achieve the highest levels to something needed to be able to learn to tie your shoes? Educators can go ahead and NOT provide a STEM curriculum and then blame a lack of grit, parents who don't understand EM or TERC, poverty, peers, whatever. Anything but look in the mirror at their own assumptions. Unfortunately, if you take away their assumptions, they have nothing left. We already know what they think about "mere" facts and "superficial knowledge."

Barry Garelick said...

SMP1 from Common Core is interpreted along "grit" sensibilities: "Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them." I've observed teachers give students problems and tell them "struggle is good". Yes, a bit of struggle IS good if it whets the appetite for a proper explanation to follow. In that vain, instruction in general is necessary if you really want students to "persevere". A "just in time" learning approach is not going to cut it. But then as Steve H says, lack of grit is always there as the ultimate scapeboat. Aka: It's the student's fault.