I have nee thinking about this phrase when it comes to education. In a recent post, Paul Thomas also cites the do no harm phrase: http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/on-children-and-childhood/. Why are our minds turning to this phrase, this concept of doing no harm to kids? It has to do with GRIT, another term usurped by the reform movement. It is often used in response to any complaints about the stress placed on kids by the new testing regimen. Kids need to be grittier. Here is an article from Ed Leadership that asserts that teachers should design something specifically so that kids will feel frustration and/or experience failure: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar12/vol69/num06/Got-Grit¢.aspx. At one point, the author of this article likens grit for educators as stepping outside of our comfort zones. I am OK with that. I often encourage teachers to read outside of their comfort zones. I think that is not GRIT, though. And I find it odd that the phrase is used for educators and not for students.
When I encounter a student who is struggling, my instinct is to HELP. I offer advice, support. I do not think, "let them struggle. Grit is good." I would hope someone would do the same for me. Grit is a theory. I have seen the TED talk. Yes, there are plenty of adults who had to confront failure in their lives. Perhaps that failure made them stronger, more determined. I think that is more determination and not grit-related. A better word is STAMINA.
How about taking a quiz on grit? Go here: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/12-item%20Grit%20Scale.05312011.pdf. What is your score? I scored 4+. But is that what makes me successful? I think many of the questions are more about stamina and determination than about failure.
There is no shortage of writing about grit. I'd like to see more about stamina and how to develop that skill. I know stamina is what keeps me reading daily and writing daily. How can we help kids of all ages find that stamina? Practice helps. Setting goals helps, too. Finding topics of interest for that reading and writing is another element. Asking for reading and writing within the abilities of the reader and writer seems a reasonable piece as well. In this crazy push harder, read beyond, write to a prompt with a line limit world, maybe STAMINA is not the goal. Maybe the goal is failure and frustration. And maybe we need to turn that around.
Let's talk about stamina and other issues on April 12 at 7 pm Central in a Twitter chat hosted by Donalyn Miller and me centered on Dick Allington's article EVERY CHILD, EVERY DAY: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar12/vol69/num06/Every-Child,-Every-Day.aspx. Use #bpbasics to join is.