Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Grit” Takes another Hit (with Caveats) | the becoming radical

“Grit” Takes another Hit (with Caveats) | the becoming radical:

“Grit” Takes another Hit (with Caveats)

David Denby’s The Limits of “Grit” in The New Yorker offers further evidence that the “grit” train is slowly but surely being derailed.
Paul Tough, journalist, and Angela Duckworth, scholar, have been central to the rise of “grit” as a silver-bullet in education reform—mostly targeting high-poverty racial minority students in “no excuses” charter schools. Both Tough and Duckworth have recently begun pack pedaling slightly as they release new books, Tough’s second on teaching children in poverty and Duckworth’s first on her highly celebrated “grit,” which was a hit as a TED talk and garnered her a MacAuthur Genius grant.
While the “grit” train was gaining steam among politicians, the media, and edureformers, several educators and scholars raised significant concerns about the essential racist and classist elements of “grit” research, the “grit” narrative, and why both are so politically powerful and popular with the public.
“Grit” is receiving another boost directly from Tough’s and Duckworth’s books—and the PR masked as journalism both have been afforded through their own public writings and numerous interviews at many of the most prestigious news sources.
However, an unintended consequence of Tough and Duckworth boosting the “grit” train through soft back pedaling has been a rise in substantive push back; for example consider:
The quality of Duckworth’s research as well as the essential value of “grit” has been fairly strongly refuted now, even in the mainstream media who love the whole “grit” charade (however, we must note, that nearly no one in that push back or the mainstream media is willing yet to acknowledge the racism and classism driving this train).
So Denby’s challenge to Duckworth and “grit” is very welcomed, but also deeply problematic.
Denby strikes first at the essential choice Duckworth has made:
Other social scientists, looking at the West Point situation and many others that Duckworth considers, might have called grit a “dependent variable”—one possible factor in a given experimental situation affecting many other factors. But Duckworth decided that grit is the single trait in our complex and wavering nature which accounts for success; grit is the strong current of will that flows through genetic inheritance and the existential muddle of temperament, choice, contingency—everything that makes life life.
“Grit,” Denby rightfully argues, is grossly over-exaggerated by Duckworth and the cult of “grit” in “no excuses” education reform. Success comes from a complicated matrix of causes—and we must acknowledge that often those competing for success are “Grit” Takes another Hit (with Caveats) | the becoming radical:



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