Grit, optimism and other buzzwords in the way of education

Matthew Zalaznick's picture
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Angela Duckworth was recently awarded a $625,000 “no strings attached” MacArthur genius grant for her research on “Grit.” Along with perseverance, initiative, and optimism, grit is one of the hottest buzzwords in K-12 education.

Many teachers, policy makers, and reformers are shifting their focus from cognitive skills to character attributes. Supposedly, these “21st Century Skills” correlate more directly to an individual’s long term success.

Unrelated to new technologies, or digital literacy, 21st Century Skills are all about desirable character traits. I’m all for a move away from dependence on standardized test scores, but the focus on “character” is suspect.

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