“EVERY CHILD HAS A RIGHT to live a literate life every day in every classroom”
-Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell
Having grit is an essential component in life. And we should all be teaching our children to have grit. Being able to stick to a valuable task, even when the payoff isn’t apparent or obvious, is a good character trait to have. I think that’s also true for all of us.
It’s enough to make one wonder: when does having grit become a bad thing? It’s never a bad thing but I think problem with grit lies in the definition; most think grit is having to work hard despite not knowing why. But grit is having the courage and resolve; strength of character to do the thing that must be done; people with grit need to keep working hard and know why it is they are working hard for. They really do need to know their purpose and why they’re doing it. The problem is that kids aren’t educated to have character. Why should you go to work? Why should you do what you do? We should be teaching kids that they have a purpose in this world and they are supposed to serve others in doing it and in return they will be rewarded by a higher power. Whatever that higher power is to you.
Moreover, grit is good for our Republic. The whole reason we have public schools in the first place is not to force conformity on the next generation of Americans; it’s to create literate adults who can read proficiently, think well, and to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. Schools should promote independence and freedom of thought, persistence in the face of obstacles and we should expect every child to be readers and lifelong learners. We should be inspiring students to do things because they want to learn them. We should be encouraging them to think for themselves and pursue their own ideas. But they won’t be able to do this if they can’t read well. Reading is Fundamental!
Something has gone wrong in education, but what? What has shifted to bring about our current educational dilemma? These are questions that must be raised. The blueprint of modern education isn’t working. If education is, as G.K. Chesterton says, “simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another,” then we do well to soberly evaluate our current educational approach and goals.
Our current processes are building a house that lacks corner stone and thus falls easily into despair.
In the end, the solutions we propose depend largely on the way we’ve framed the problems they’re intended to solve. In this case, the obsession with grit reflects the fact that we think of schooling now largely in individual terms: school, in the common conception, is for personal improvement. Our culture can no longer agree on the answers to two fundamental questions: What is “education’s supreme task?” and What should children learn?
We need parents and educators who have grit to go beyond the symptoms–failing literacy rates, poor performance on science and math exams and nonexistent writing and speaking skills. We need to look more deeply to repair the ruins, we must look more deeply for the root causes of these problems. We must go beyond simply criticizing the system to offering a positive alternative. That positive alternative is a classical education.
The bottom line is this we should be training kids to see the integration of all subjects. Students should be trained to ask how all subjects fit together and to contemplate how the connections of science and language or history and philosophy deepen our understanding. A principal problem with modern educational methods is that they place the student at the center of the learning experience and introduce him to math, science, fine arts, and history in discrete bubbles as if his thoughts about all these subjects have no relations to one another. Instead, education should put God or a higher authority at the center and teach students to see all knowledge as governed by him. Students should be able to connect their knowledge of fine arts to the current events discussed yesterday and then to the evidence of design in the universe. Education should acknowledge that we don’t live in a multi-verse but in a uni-verse. Some reformers want to educate kids to be tolerant and thus make laws that keep us from what we truly must do, but the more we focus on this bullshit the further we get from keeping a well-trained mind that. In my opinion, in addition to teaching the core body of knowledge, a classical education prepares students for an adventure of lifelong learning by teaching them to think.
With all my love,
PS — Keep showing up. Keep being courageous and sharing your creative heart with the world. And as Marie Forleo says: “It really does need that special gift that ONLY you have!”
Copyright © 2019 Marla Benavides, All rights reserved.
Independent Consultant and Education Service Representative for Usborne Books & More
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