Grit is the new educational buzzword of the month. These days, every teacher is supposed to be teaching students “grit” in every class, all the time, in between those assemblies and standardized tests and music lessons and I don’t know what all.
We might even get some time to make them proficient in a language, if we really try.
But seriously…is “grit” something that even belongs in the language classroom? Certainly everyone agrees that we don’t want to raise kids who give up immediately when they are faced with a challenging task.
Are teachers qualified to be teaching “grit”? How do you teach “grit”? Should teachers be teaching values or psychological attitudes in the first place?
Well, let’s assume for the sake of argument that yes, they can, and yes, they should. Then the question becomes: why in the world would you need “grit” to acquire a language?
Language acquisition is the most natural thing in the world — if the process isn’t blocked by people demanding output before its time, imposing “rigor” and generally making an easy, natural process into an onerous and painful one.
Among language teachers, the teachers who tend to favor instruction in “grit” seem to be those who teach using methods that require hard work — aka legacy methods. The old ways. The ones from the days when the smart kids “got it” and the others just never would, oh well. Not college material. Sadly, these days are still with us in many world language classrooms.
The people who need the “grit” are the teachers — to continue looking for a way of teaching that is brain-friendly and produces significant proficiency in all students. Let the students save the “grit” for the fact-based classes, not languages.