SmartBlog readers weigh in on effort, achievement - SmartBrief

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SmartBlog readers weigh in on effort, achievement

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This is the first blog post in SmartBlog on Education’s new Friday Feature series where editors will highlight reader comments, popular blog posts for the week and ultimately create a space for educators to engage, innovate and discuss. Thanks for visiting and happy reading!

On Nov. 21, education author and instructional-design expert Kevin Washburn published a post on what he feels is a crucial — and frequently overlooked — ingredient in every student’s learning process: effort.

“Several studies suggest a strong correlation between effort (or perseverance or grit or willpower) and achievement — not just academic success but improved life quality beyond graduation day,” Washburn wrote. “If this aspect of ‘character’ is so vital, how can we give it more intentional emphasis in education?”

He shared three ideas: Use stories that highlight the connection between “struggle and eventual success” in lessons and discussions. Focus on effort-result relationships in evaluating students’ progress. And don’t question students about their abilities; instead, ask them how they can improve their learning strategies.

Washburn didn’t have the last word, though. His post earned not only hundreds of tweets and Facebook “likes,” but also a string of interesting comments from readers. Here’s a sample of their contributions, which include personal anecdotes to societal commentary.

Katja: “I … remember that in Maths class my eventual success was never regarded as highly as the next person’s and that really hurt because in the eyes of my Maths teacher the student who got it in an instant was more worthy of attention and praise. More often than not I got a ‘Ah, now she’s got it!’ and I felt really patronised.”

Wisconsin note: “Focus on effort and perseverance to raise achievement and move beyond the frustration of difficult tasks. An important lesson for all of us, especially those who are gifted, disabled or disadvantaged. Being smart does not mean all learning should come easily.”

Charlene: “Excellent article. I think too often if things get hard, kids and adults quit. We are such an ‘instant’ society that we are losing our ability to stick with it when things get tough or challenging. We need to hear more of this.”

Ann: “Today’s society and its ‘instant gratification’ within has helped to create the lack of perseverance among all people. If we wait longer than 2-3 minutes in the drive-thru lane, we get angry. … Fast food, laser printers, online shopping, and EZ passes make waiting a lost art. As an educator, I completely agree that we need to support our youth in perseverance. The article had several great ideas that I plan on sharing.”

Babs: “Thanks for this post. Last week I blogged about a similar topic, The Value of Struggle, on the Responsive Classroom website. … As you point out, a teacher’s attitude toward struggle and the language that a teacher uses with students who are struggling (academically or socially), have the potential to communicate a strong belief in children’s potential.”

Dennis: “Kevin’s work is ‘spot on’. As both a school principal and more importantly a dad, the lifelong benefits of effort and perseverance are characteristics that transcend every aspect of life, social growth, and personal development.”

Sarah Wade is a writer at SmartBrief. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she writes for food, retail and hospitality briefs and contributes to several SmartBlogs.