The dangers of oversimplification


‘Persistence’, I often find myself saying to the cat, ‘is not a virtue’.  What I mean, of course, is that persistence is not necessarily a virtue, and this nuance matters.  Too often in education, people latch onto a big idea without proper consideration of the subtleties vital to making effective use of that idea in the classroom.  This happened with the growth mindset, and now it is happening with Angela Duckworth’s idea of grit.  If teachers and school leaders oversimplify and therefore miscommunicate Duckworth’s ideas, children will get the wrong impression about what they need to do to build resilience, and that matters because resilience is a component of success.

I say a ‘component of success’ because it is important not to overstate the case.  There is already plenty of scepticism about the precise role of grit (as there is about the growth mindset), with some research suggesting that it…

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