Grit vs. Intellect

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"Learning is hard...that's why character is at least as important as intellect."  - Angela Duckworth

University of Pennsylvania research psychologist Angela Duckworth was just awarded the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award" for her work investigating the impact of motivation and volition on learning.

Her findings? 

Grit and self-control matter more than raw intellect.  Kids who learn to do hard things, particularly independent work that requires sustained attention over time, may be better equipped to make a real contribution later in life.

Volition and Motivation

Motivation is a critical factor, but it's not the only thing that matters.  I might be motivated to exercise more, but unless I actually lace up my running shoes and head out the door, it's not going to happen.  That's where volition comes in.  Volition is the willpower, or self-control, to do what needs to be done.

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Ant Power

Motivation + volition = the power of the ant, from Proverbs 6:6-8:

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

That's motivation and volition in action, which combine to form a critical quality:  grit.

Do you have grit?

The Grit Scale questionnaire was developed by University of Pennsylvania researchers and is demonstrated to be a strong predictor of success in difficult endeavors.  In fact, Duckworth and her colleagues found that this simple twelve item questionnaire was a better predictor of the success of West Point freshman cadets that the complicated system in use by the military.  They also found that at Penn, a high grit score helped students with less-than-stellar SAT scores achieve high grades.

Do you have grit?   Take the test and find out.  Registration is free.

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We build grit.

Finding the right balance of interesting and important work that is also just hard enough to be frustrating builds grit. Learning can be full of fun and joy, but anything worthwhile is also challenging and sometimes frustrating. That's why it is critical to recognize the power of strong character as we help kids grow in wisdom, knowledge and grit.

Join us as we help your child build "Ant Power".

Mrs. Jennifer Canady serves as the Director of the RISE Institute at LCS. You can email her at

Published on by Jennifer Canady.