Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

School News

September 24, 2012

True Grit: The Key to Academic Success?

CROSSVILLE — In 2010 the Cohen brothers directed a remake of the 1969 movie True Grit which starred John Wayne and was based on a novel by Charles Portis. The story follows a young woman who hires a U.S. Marshall to track down her father’s murderer. She picks the meanest, most determined Marshall to find him, saying , “They tell me you are a man with true grit.” Turns out true grit isn’t just a movie or a character trait, it’s the basis for a plethora of research in education. Traditionally, academic success has been linked to talent – measured by test scores – that is linked to innate traits that we are born with. Einstein was born with the physics gene, Tiger Woods was born with the golf gene; of course, hard work and practice was involved as well but that doesn’t make up for a biological lacking. Or does it? Maybe surprisingly, there is no PGA gene. The intrinsic nature of talent is overrated. Research is proving that talent is really about deliberate practice and work – grit!

Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed argues that the qualities that matter most in being successful in life are those that have to do with character: perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism and self-control. For the first time, researchers and educators are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Early adversity affects the conditions of children’s lives but it also alters the physical development of the brain. Much of this research is being led by Angela Duckworth, a current psychology professor and former middle and high school math teacher. As a teacher Duckworth noticed what most of us know: students who tried hardest did the best, and the students who didn’t try very hard didn’t do very well. She started looking at the role of effort in academic success and her research focuses on “grit,” or what she defines as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” She has concluded that grit is as essential as intelligence when it comes to achievement.

We know how to measure intelligence in a matter of minutes, but intelligence leaves a lot unexplained. Why, for instance, do many “smart” people under-achieve? Why do some high-achievers score low on the ACT or TCAPs? Duckworth’s research found that smarter students actually had less grit than their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test. Often people who are not as “bright” compensate by working harder and with more determination.  In her studies, the “grittier” students actually higher GPAs than the “smarter” students. Tough’s studies have shown that a good GPA, even from a low-performing high school, is a better predictor of whether a student will finish college than a high mark on the ACT or SAT. GPAs reward perseverance, character, time management, and just plain old fashioned hard work. Think of the NFL Combine: players perform in short bursts under conditions of high motivation. The purpose of the event is to see what the players are capable of, to determine their potential. The problem is that the NFL “real world” doesn’t resemble the NFL Combine. Instead, success in the real world depends on sustained performance, on being able to practice, to work hard, to be determined and persistent.

Of course, this new research begs the question, “Can grit be taught?” In his research, Tough visited schools for the elite and the poor and found that both sets of students have a problem with failure: the wealthy kids don’t see enough of it to learn resilience and the poor kids see too much to learn persistence. There are examples of teachers and schools who are taking their foot off the grades-homework-tests gas pedal and are being successful using discipline, habituation and a careful reframing of the way students react and think. His point is that an easy A will help kids less than a hard-won B. Levine, a family therapist to the wealthy, has spent years counseling students whose high academic performance left them emotionally frail. Her advice is less emphasis on grades and more emphasis on values such as determination and perseverance. Success is never easy. Thomas Edison made over 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. But he gave us some really good advice: Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. 

1
Text Only
School News
  • cchs humanitites.jpg CCHS competes in RSCC Humanities Festival

    Math students from Cumberland County High School competed at the Roane State Humanities Festival in the College Bowl and Calculator Olympics. The team, consisting of Nithya Kangasegar, Logan Parsons, Robert Claflin and Jennifer Hedgecoth, received second place in the written competitions, as well as the College Bowl competition. CCHS students Jay Patel, Drake Parrot and Dune Bennett finished first, second and third, respectively, in the Calculator Olympics competition. This group of students performed exceptionally well, taking four out of five possible math awards. Pictured, from left, are Patel, Hedgecoth, Claflin, Parsons, Parrott, Kangasegar and Bennett.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • kwva scholarships.jpg KWVA presents scholarships

    Celia Denney with Stone Memorial High School and Livia Jo Abston and Zach Cole of Cumberland County High School were announced at the recent graduations as the winners of $1,000 scholarships offered by the local Korean War Veterans Association. Denney will attend Lee University in Cleveand, studying public relations and international studies. Abston plans to attend Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville to study nursing, and Cole will study business administration at UT in Knoxville. Members of the selection committee, from left, are Chan Smith, Dale Koestler, Cmdr. Bob Johnson, PIO Dick Malsack and committee chair Roger VanRekom.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • BES-students rewarded2.jpg Brown rewards students for achivements

    Students in grades five through eight enjoyed frisbee golf, Wii dancing and ice cream floats at the Renaissance Rally at Frank P. Brown Elementary School for the third grading period of the school year. The Renaissance program provides incentives to encourage students to strive for achievements in academics, attendance and attitude (good behavior).

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • MG intern Terri.jpg Brimigion lends a hand with Master Gardeners, ag research

    Terri Brimigion, the intern with the Cumberland County Master Gardeners and the UT AgResearch and Education Center, is midway through her summer program.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local 4-Hers compete at sub-regional Achievement Day

    It was a big day for 17 very talented Cumberland County 4-Hers who competed in the Sub-regional 4-H Achievement Day held in Scott County May 12. Having been selected as county winners based on classroom demonstration and exhibit competitions, these 4-Hers were selected to advance to the sub-regional event. Competition was tough as they competed against 111 4-Hers from eight other counties. All 17 4-Hers placed in the event.

    July 21, 2014

  • South-Beta3.jpg South BETA a National School of Distinction

    South Cumberland Elementary School is proud to be chosen as a National Beta School of Distinction for the 2013-'14 year for increasing their membership in Jr. Beta Club.
     

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2014-'15 School Calendar

    July 14, 2014

  • 4-H Maci Gernt.jpg Gernt selected for 4-H Academic Conference

    Maci Gernt, a 4-H'er from Cumberland County, was selected as a delegate for the State Junior High 4-H Academic Conference in Knoxville, June 10-13. Gernt received intensive training in the 4-H Beef Project at the University of Tennessee.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • cchs math comp.jpg CCHS students score well in math contests

    July 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • 19. Jordynne Rebekkah Walker_Ag&AppliedSciencesStudentRecognition19.jpg Walker named outstanding freshman

    Jordynne Rebekkah Walker, of Crossville, received the Outstanding Freshman in Agriculture Award from the University of Tennessee at Martin College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences during a recent departmental awards banquet. Dr. Todd Winters , dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and professor of animal sciences, and Dr. Joey Mehlhorn, professor and interim chair of agriculture, geosciences, and natural resources and director of Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences, presented the award.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014