I listened to this podcast from Freakonomics Radio the other day about grit. The program features Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth identifies four traits of gritty people: interest, practice, purpose, and hope.
This makes total sense to me. Think about something you’re good at. You didn’t get good at it by just wishing to be good at it. It took interest, effort, time, and hope. You had to practice. Practice often and practice with purpose. You cared about that thing and you had the right amount of hope to get you past the inevitable bumps and bruises.
I know all of my students can identify at least one thing they are good at. It will likely be a sport or a hobby; maybe a character trait like charity or kindness. It might NOT be math. It probably won’t be math. I teach the normal kids, the ones who, to varying degrees, are generally terrified of math. Often they are the ones whose parents excuse their math weaknesses by claiming some sort of genetic math inability, as in “I was never good at math, either.” I don’t believe in math genes; I believe in persistence and caring. With persistence and perseverance, everyone can learn math.
To get kids to start thinking about our key AtTL skill “Demonstrate persistence and perseverance” their first blog post of Grade 9 will be about something they know they are good at and what it took to get there. We’re going to take a break from the normal math class routine to listen to this podcast and blog about our own greatness. Yup, I’ll do it, too. I’ll need to shout out for help from my Lang&Lit colleagues. How do I structure such a lesson? What questions do I ask to engage the kids’ deepest thoughts about this? How will I help them find their voice?
My hope is that through blogging about their own talents and their willingness to cultivate them, they will be able to begin thinking about what it might take to be more confident math students, but that’s a topic for another post.