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True Grit: More than Academics for Gifted Children

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True Grit is not just a 1969 movie (or a 2010 remake). True grit can also be used to expand on the current popular educational topic of grit. The idea of grit, of having passion and perseverance to persist at a goal over a long period of time, has been associated with success and achievement both in educational settings as well as in careers. So, naturally it is considered an important personality trait to develop in students and adults. Much has been written, researched, and communicated about grit and related topics such as having a growth mindset or resilience. These concepts are significant for gifted students as intelligence and ability are not always the only predictors of success. There is a certain amount of grit or growth mindset, or resilience, or perseverance, or ambition, or whatever word has meaning for you, that is needed for long-term success of life goals.

Today I refer to grit with a true in front of it to encourage us to think about the social/emotional side of grit for our gifted students. As we endeavor to satisfy their emotional needs as well as their academic ones, I think employing the characteristics of grit can help us to develop and maintain satisfying social relationships over the lifespan.

Just as academic learning is not always easy, social learning can be challenging as well. It’s helpful to know that social mistakes are atruegrits important for learning as are academic mistakes. We can take what we learn from them into building the broken relationship or in developing new relationships.

Feedback is important in making improvements in the quality of future versions of a product or project. In social relationships, it is also important to get feedback from other people to help us understand relationships, make sure our communication is as complete as possible, and incorporate this feedback into deepening the relationship or in initiating future relationships.

These examples are just a couple of ways that qualities of grit might enhance our emotional as well as intellectual endeavors. Just imagine how satisfying our lifelong relationships would be if we incorporated the characteristics of true grit into them. If we weren’t discouraged or disappointed by setbacks, if we set goals that we stuck with for a long time, if we stayed focused on the relationship, and if we worked hard at it—aren’t those the kinds of relationships you’d like to have?

If you have experiences or suggestions as to how children can employ their gritty qualities to their interpersonal or personal selves, we invite you to share your thoughts here.

All the best,

Dr. Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
Executive Director, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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