10,000 Pieces of Grit

I am pretty skeptical of any overarching schema that the authors of which tell you will revolutionize your life and automatically lead to success. Thus, I have not read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, which outlines his 10,000 hours=mastery theory, nor Angela Duckworth's recent book Grit, which is seemingly all the rage. The latter details how "passion and perseverance" are the main determiners of success, not necessarily intelligence or aptitude (again, I haven't read it, so that might be a gross oversimplification).

It's not that I don't believe that 10,000 hours of work can lead to success or that you have to persevere to succeed: those both seem entirely plausible. What I stumble over is the presumption that this is the one thing that will lead to success. And, it turns out I'm not alone in my stumbling: as Jeffrey Selingo outlines here, researchers who have dug a little deeper have concluded that there are multiple paths to success. As Selingo points out, that's not very reassuring to students, families, and educators: we want the one thing that we can apply to everyone that will guarantee success.

On its face, though, that's just ridiculous. In education, we value diversity--of opinion, of background, of perspective. To assume that one approach will suit every student is antithetical to our ideals.

Much more logical, it seems to me, is to provide many avenues of opportunity for students to find their own approaches and paths to success--with the understanding and teaching of those students that those paths might be dead ends. As one of the researchers notes,

what we found is that they started down one path because they thought that was what they were supposed to do, and then at some point they realized that they didn’t like that path at all. 

Choosing one path and sticking with it no matter what (which I sort of addressed in my previous post) is the definition of insanity. It's understandable though because we want to avoid disappointment, failure, and wasting time. However, not one person who deems themselves successful can honestly say that they haven't taken a few detours along the way.