Grit, Growth Mindset and the Backlash against Both


By Betsy Hill

Grit, perseverance, fortitude, tenacity, resilience, persistence, stick-to-it-iveness, backbone, pluck, moral fiber, stamina, spunk…  We have a lot of words for what it takes to do hard things and overcome obstacles.  Growth mindset, flexibility, adaptability, zeal, willingness, a positive outlook, flexibility, motivation.  We also have a lot of words for what it takes to learn from mistakes and try something new when our first approach doesn’t work.

The valence of the terms is different.  Grit is, well, gritty.  It’s tough, it’s grinding, it’s exhausting.  Growth mindset sounds gentler, more positive, easier.  But the attraction for educators is similar – getting students to keep at the hard tasks of learning. 

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