Learning to be Gritty.

Posted by Ash on Jun 2, 2016

This weeks task is very closely linked to the last. Angela Duckworth defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” She suggests that when it comes to high achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence, a view mirrored by Matthew Syed where he believes that there is no such thing as just having natural talent in a given area.
Duckworth states that grit can wax and wane in response to experiences. In addition, people might be gritty about some things and not others. If you take a student who has a passion for football and they are religious about practicing daily but in Maths they may give up at the slightest hurdle does this mean that they are not ‘gritty’ or simply decide where to use it? I believe many social and environmental factors play a part here.
As previously mentioned, grit is where you stick with something for an extensive period of time to master and excel in it. BUT the problem with this is that our current schooling system, as stated in a previous task by Sir Ken Robinson, is too structured, where it would be nearly impossible for most students to master any subject, let alone Mathematics.
One way to develop the ‘grit attitude’ in Mathematics could be to offer a daily Maths club that is attractive for all students of all abilities. Something of the more enquiry kind, however this relies heavily on the willingness of highly qualified teaching staff and the whole schools environment.
In Jo Boalers article there is a large focus on the effects of setting students by ability rather than through mixed abilities. Currently within the UK schooling system students are set by their ability from as young as Primary years, which makes my mind boggle.
Setting can be dangerous for both high set placed students along with lower placed. Students will automatically be under the impression that if they are in a low set for Maths ‘they can’t do it’ students in a high set for Maths simply will not try and not achieve what they are capable of, a theory mentioned by Matthew Syed.
For teachers teaching for mixed ability classes would need a lot of thought, careful lesson planning and teaching methods. But if teaching through mixed ability learning could close the gap on the ‘can’t do maths’ attitude then surely it could be worth a go. It has been a proven success in other countries and as the world is coming closer together, through globalisation, we should be combining our best teaching practices and learning from others.


  1. pepsmccrea
    7 June 2016

    Good to see that you’ve taken on board some of the more subtle aspects of Grit > that it is variable dependent on a number of factors. I suppose the question then become: how can I influence these factors as a teacher? Interesting about the idea of a more globalised approach to teaching. I wonder how things will converge…

  2. Charli
    7 June 2016

    I think it’s difficult to keep anyone, let alone a group of hugely disinterested students, motivated enough to maintain a level of grit needed to fulfill potential. I think setting students too early could stunt their growth and this is dangerous, but I have to admit that I think that the benefits of setting outweigh the costs.

  3. Fintan Donnellan
    8 June 2016

    I’m completely shocked that setting occurs in primary schools. That’s much to early to judge the ability of a child. Who’s to say that a primary school student who initially has some difficulty with adding and subtracting would not do better than his/her peers further down the line? It’s completely ruthless on any child who’s slow starting off.

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