On Grit & Education

Alan Borsuk

Grit and optimism. And hugs for the kids in your life.
The events of last week, national, local and personal, have reduced me to sentence fragments. These words and phrases are at the top of my mind.
How can you show grit at a time when the news can drain all your energy? How can you be optimistic in a week when an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, is killed by a bomb while waiting to cheer for his father? Or when so many other horrible things occur?
Because you have to, for yourself and for your children.
Paul Tough, formerly of The New York Times, wrote a great book last year about the character traits of successful children. Tough wrote that research shows that children who turn out well are, in significant numbers, children who are strong in key character traits.
That applies both to those growing up in comfortable circumstances and those who are not.
Among the traits he singled out: curiosity, self-control, conscientiousness, optimism and one he labeled grit – in fact, it’s in the subtitle of his book, “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.”
Grit includes the determination to keep working on something when it gets frustrating or tough and to persevere until there are better outcomes. (President Barack Obama used the word grit in praising Boston’s first responders when he spoke to a group of them Thursday in Boston.)