my organization has been focused on grit this year, or the idea that teaching students how to persevere through difficult times is a coping skill that is connected to success. our field-based research and practice has revolved around how we ourselves, as educators, become gritty and model this character trait for our students. Angela Duckworth is the leading researcher on this concept, and she has written and spoken extensively about her findings.
i have a personal connection to this concept; my Finnish heritage informs much of what i do, and our national identity revolves around "sisu", which means "tenacity", translated into English. we pride ourselves as a country on our resilience; throughout history the Finns were repeatedly conquered and have had to fight to maintain our sense of identity, our land, our language and our livelihood in the frigid climate near the North Baltic Sea. my grandparents tell the family stories that their parents told them of the old country: of difficult fishing seasons and hunting for scarce game in order to keep their families fed in subzero temperatures.
this is why grit resonates with me so much - i've been taught this character trait through my family, and it's become a part of my life and outlook. when i taught high school, we talk about coping strategies and how they can get through tough times by using humor, the creative process and other outlets for dealing with anger, grief and depression. my next entry will be a final project for a class i'm taking, about how i'm applying character education to my classroom, and grit is the trait that resonates with me so clearly.