What My Fitness Journey Taught Me About Grit in Education
One of my personal passions is fitness. I attend an amazing female strength training gym and am thankful to have an amazing community of strong, hardworking and inspiring women around me.
I consistently go to the gym 5-6 days a week and it has become a ritual I look forward to. Furthermore, I recently did a DEXA scan to track my progress and found I had lost a substantial amount of body fat and gained a substantial amount of muscle in the past two and a half years.
Now, you are probably wondering-how does this relate to education?
Well let me tell you-I was not always dedicated to fitness. In fact as a teenager, with the exception of swimming, I was what you could call athletically-challenged, having the bad fortune to get hit in the head with the ball often when playing sports (really.. I am serious..I once did a two day basketball camp and got hit in the head with the ball three times!) and had a less than nutrient-rich diet.
I stumbled into fitness in my early twenties, and it was a slow arduous journey to building commitment and then eventually enjoyment. I am by no means perfect in this realm and still enjoy days of rest and relaxation, however, it took small, incremental changes to build fitness into my life and have it transform from a chore to an enjoyable daily practice.
This idea related to the idea Angela Duckworth outlines in her book GRIT. Talent will not win in the face of hard work and perseverance but rather grit or pursuing in the face of adversity can make us stronger, smarter, faster-you get the idea.
Teaching our students perseverance and daily practices of small changes can lead them to success in a variety of endeavours.
Furthermore, passion is not necessarily innate-though you can have a variety of interests, but true passion demonstrates commitment and hard work and is built through mindful practice and persistence.
As educators, we have a responsibility to understand why students lack motivation when confronted with certain tasks.
As Dr. Anders Ericsson outlined in his study of fostering excellence, deliberate practice is essential to the building of grit and requires four aspects: setting a specific stretch goal, fully concentrating on a specific task, receiving feedback and practising repetitively.
Deliberate practice is not always enjoyable due to the difficult nature of these tasks, however, explaining to students the WHY of using deliberate practice and praising them for their perseverance in these tasks can help increase motivation in the classroom.
As educators, we can help students foster grit by modelling and aiding students in developing their own daily deliberate practice.
Some great resources for teaching students deliberate practice and help to foster grit are:
Character Lab’s Lesson on Expert Practice: https://www.characterlab.org/expert-practice
Angela Duckworth’s Grit Scale: https://angeladuckworth.com/grit-scale/
Angela Duckworth's Ted Talk on grit