Saturday, September 14, 2013

What Parents Should Say as Their Kids Perform

I was made aware of a blog a while back after having conversation with a number of administrators and came across a recent article that is kind of in the same theme of some that I have written lately.  One of the things that I really believe is lacking in our student body is strong leadership.  We have discussed this for a few years and have come to the point where we have talked enough and we need to do something.  While subscribing to a blog isn't a real impressive step and most likely is in itself not going to make a difference in student leadership, we need resources, and the article I am sharing with you today is one such resource.  Dr. Tim Elmore is the author of the blog and is a "leading authority on how to understand the next generation and prepare tomorrow's leaders today."  A best-selling author, he is also an international speaker and president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit organization that helps "develop emerging leaders under the philosophy that each child is born with leadership qualities."  This blog article is one that I have pulled that I think paints a pretty good picture for parents and their role with their child.  It is relative to sports, but the message is the same for all aspects of school and a child's life.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Grit is a term that I don’t hear as much as I used to, unless I am looking for sandpaper.  My grandfather, and for that matter my mother, used that term a lot when I was younger to describe toughness when they were talking about people.  John Wayne, maybe the toughest cowboy of them all, exhibited that trait playing Rooster Cogburn in the movie True Grit way back when. 
A University of Pennsylvania professor has done research the past few years focused on what role effort plays in a person’s success.  Angela Duckworth was a middle and high school teacher before she became a psychology professor.  She spent a lot of time thinking about a concept that most of us believe is common sense: students who tried the hardest did the best, and those that didn’t try very hard didn’t do very well.  Sure, that makes a lot of sense.  But, what about talent and aptitude?  What about intelligence?  Don’t those smarter kids have an advantage?  Can’t they be successful without putting forth a strong effort?  We also know that as far as school success is concerned, poverty and thus a child’s background play a role in success.  But Duckworth says that regardless, those are secondary to the effort that one puts forth.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that there are a number of factors that determine success, from the month in which one is born to living in the right place at the right time.  But, Gladwell also claims that the key to success in any field is the 10,000-hour rule, which means that it is a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.  That is an incredible amount of time!  That takes grit!
Duckworth goes on to write that the person with grit recognizes that achievement is a marathon, not a sprint.  The student that has grit has stamina and sticks with a task until they get it right.  She even suggests that when it comes to high levels of achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence, which debunks the commonly held belief that one’s IQ is the key to success.  While intelligence is easily measured, grit is tougher to get a handle on, but according to Duckworth, those who stick with a task, who work hard, and who show determination do succeed.  In fact, in a study she conducted at an Ivy League school, the “grittiest” students had higher GPA’s than the smartest ones. 
High school students of this generation have a strong desire for instant gratification.  They are the gamers that thrive on instantaneous rewards and moving up levels.  They tweet and post constantly with immediate feedback from friends, which is a lot different than letter writing!  Educators talk a lot about kids simply wanting an answer without understanding the process or reworking a problem until they understand it.  And, many parents with good intentions swoop in to problem-solve rather than watch their child struggle and sometimes fail.  Persistence.  Tenacity.  Perseverance.  Diligence.  Grit!  It is probably the single most important quality that we as parents can work to instill in our children if we want to see them succeed and achieve.