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Is Grit Overrated in Explaining Student Success?

This story originally appeared in the "Washington Post."

Much like the 10,000 hours theory advanced by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers — that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field — the idea of grit is a simple concept to understand for parents and teachers worried about raising achievement levels among students.

But how well does grit, or 10,000 hours, really explain the ultimate success of people who achieve preeminence in their fields?

Not as much as we tend to think, according to two Harvard University researchers working on a new project aimed at understanding the development of individual excellence. Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education maintain that concepts like grit and hard work are based on averages across populations or occupations, such as tennis or chess. But mastery in almost any field cannot be easily explained by averages since people achieve their success in different ways.

“Things like grit and 10,000 hours are mindsets that are very misleading because they are consequences not causes — they are lagging indicators of performance,” said Todd Rose, who is the author of The End of Average, a book that illustrates how averages are flawed in understanding human achievement....

Read more at the Washington Post.

 

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