CBR12 Bingo: How-To
I procrastinate a lot. For example, I finished listening to the audiobook of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016) by Angela Duckworth months ago, but I’m only finally getting around to writing the review now. I always feel that I can be more efficient and accomplish so much more. Some of this dissatisfaction surely stems from unrealistic expectations, but a larger part comes from a lack of focus and follow through. I wondered if I could learn something from Grit.
Angela Duckworth is a psychologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and she has an impressive pedigree of education and awards. Yet she begins her book explaining how her father used to tell her that she was not intelligent enough to be a real success. Duckworth uses herself as an example of someone with no particular genius, literally winning the MacArthur Award (the genius grant). Her thesis is that hard, long-term, focused work matters more than talent.
I found Grit to be interesting and a little bit inspiring. However, there are so many factors that go into success, including talent, opportunity, and self esteem, that the conclusions in this book should not be drawn too broadly. Some reviews complained that Duckworth’s views have encouraged strict, performance based charter schools that do not encourage the creativity and initiative that would be useful for leadership roles.
One example that really stuck with me was comparing student reviews of their first-year college, calculus (I think I’m remembering the subject correctly) teacher and subsequent student performance in that subject. The teacher that got really positive reviews, where students felt that they really understood the subject well, tended to do worse in subsequent calculus classes in later years. On the other hand students that had to suffer through the difficult, demanding teacher where they were constantly confused, tended to do better in subsequent calculus classes. Even though this difficult teacher got worse reviews from their students, the students that had to struggle and figure things out for themselves actually had better retention of the information.
This ties in with Duckworth’s point that you can’t just be busy and see improvement. It must be focused. The Spelling Bee students who did best didn’t just do the “fun” studying of taking quizzes. Instead, they buckled down and embraced the laborious process of learning new words and their derivations. The same goes with any goal. If you make the learning too easy, it’s not going to work. The learning really occurs when you fail and persist.
This was a good book to listen to in my car. Duckworth’s explanations of the best ways for us to learn was the most interesting part for me.
You can find all my reviews on my blog.