By Tim Thomas
Never turn your back on a class any longer than necessary.
Never try to be someone else when you teach.
Never change what you do just to impress an administrator or visiting dignitary.
Always grade papers as soon as possible upon their completion.
Okay I never said I was able to consistently abide by all these, just that they were truths I’d learned along the way.
Another such truth: When faced with the decision of either going with your gut or going with what an educational expert says … go with your gut.
Case in point: Education expert Christine Yeh says inequities in our system of education are more damaging than students’ lack of determination. Specifically, Yeh attacks the idea of encouraging students to have some “grit” when it comes to their studies.
The grit movement is a relatively new and honestly quite surprising (and refreshing) trend in education. The foundational idea is to encourage and foster determination in students. How that is accomplished is based largely on the individual learning and teaching styles utilized by each student and teacher, but the primary focus is on getting students to see their learning process — primarily assessed through formative assignments — through to the end.
Grit focuses on the long term, and when done right encourages the use of goal-setting and step-by-step planning in order to see a project or other formative assessment to completion.
In other words, some of the same tools consistently used by the most successful people in our society.
Problem is, many of the entrenched edu-crats in our public education system don’t like the idea. The reason is simple. At its core, expecting students to show grit in their work completely shifts the focus so diligently pushed by those edu-crats for decades. They’ve spent their entire careers trying to convince us that the reason little Johnny can’t read is because little Johnny had the misfortune of being born with the wrong skin color or the wrong cultural background.
The grit movement implies that maybe a little more effort would help little Johnny to improve his position and decrease the likelihood of his own children being trapped in the same failed cultural cycles that have made his road more difficult. It’s the old, forgotten American ideal of raising your children to enjoy a better quality of life than you’ve had.
“Grit is an easy concept to fall in love with because it represents hope and perseverance, and conjures up images of working-class individuals living the ‘American dream.’ However, treating grit as an appealing and simple fix detracts attention from the larger structural inequities in schools, while simultaneously romanticizing notions of poverty.”
Yeah, God forbid we romanticize poverty. You know, like believing that those who endure hardship come out of it with stronger values and character and are able to better appreciate what they have later on. Instead of teaching people to value the lessons learned in those lean times, we should just keep telling them how unfair it is that they have to go through those lean times.
“Perhaps this idea of grit resonates with so many people who believe in the popular American adage that if you work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, then you can achieve anything. This belief unfortunately, assumes that individuals have the power, privilege, and access to craft their own futures, regardless of circumstance and systemic barriers … Schools that focus on grit shouldn’t ignore structural inequities because they assume that regardless of your race, class, or social context you can still triumph.”
Did you get that? She didn’t say “will still triumph” or “may still triumph” but rather “can still triumph”. That’s not an accident — she wants you to believe that minority races and culturally challenged peoples cannot succeed, so we must level the playing field.
And this supposedly well-educated woman never realizes that what she’s spouting is Racism and Classism 101.
The bottom line in all this — in fact in pretty much all liberal ideas — is that human beings are incapable of living positive, efficient, rewarding lives on their own because we don’t really understand what is best for us and even if we do, “The Man” will hold us back. Only the collective — the Nanny State — knows what is good for us and can help us achieve it, and if we’ll just yield to its omniscience all our lives will be so much better.
Our system of public education is filled with people like this, folks. They are one of the primary reasons why I encourage every parent to VERY STRONGLY consider either home or private schooling. If you need more encouragement, let me leave you with this little clip from Yeh’s column:
“ … not all things are worth sticking with.”
God forbid we teach this to our kids.