Writing That Challenges the "Grit" Narrative

Chris Thinnes

I’m mindful that prominent research on “grit” has a complicated relationship to the uses to which “the ‘grit’ narrative” has been put in education, and the impacts “the ‘grit’ narrative” has had on our students, parents, teachers, and schools…

That said, here are some pieces that have helped to frame my current thinking about “the ‘grit’ narrative.” I’m grateful to all the educators, academics, and activists who shared them with me. Leading up to the #WholeChild twitter chat on “The Cult of Grit” on Sunday, March 20th, I shared these on Twitter:


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  • Thanks for sharing the link to the Sokol article. I was drawn by this phrase: “…what children need is not “grit” but abundance. They need the support, time, resources, and love which makes persistence possible.”

    The article does a great job of hinting at the violence of proximity to poverty. And the emphasis on abundance is separated from white, middle class ways of being abundant, and thereby avoiding John Ogbu’s critique of “cultural deficit” among the poor-er.

    I wonder if, in an American democracy, there have to be several shared resources that help to equalize a society:
    * access to stable, clean housing (no rodents, clean HVAC & water, plumbing)
    * access to inexpensive healthcare and wellness
    * access to nature
    * access to stable employment that develops one’s skills and leaves robust time and energy for family, civic engagement and self-care
    * access to beautiful schools….

    Is this an accurate, if not partial, listing of democratic resources? Or do they reflect an western, American way of knowing democracy?