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Teaching for Hope in the Era of Grit


by Sarah M. Stitzlein — 2018

Background/Context: Grit has quickly become one of the leading educational goals and markers of success upheld by many schools, parents, and education policies. This article intends to give us pause in the rush toward grit by revealing some of its shortcomings, including the implications of its individualist and long-term goal focus which leave systems of injustice in place and place children in a pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps ideology.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This article responds to grit by putting forward a more robust and sustaining educational aim of hope that arises from the work of pragmatist philosophy, especially that of education theorist John Dewey.

Research Design: This analytic essay employs philosophical critique to assess the current emphasis on grit and its implications, then articulates the philosophical concept of pragmatist hope and explain how it overcomes the problems of grit.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The vision of hope put forward in this article is more flexible, social, and political than the popular form of grit, as it is driven to action that improves one’s life and those of other people. The philosophically sophisticated account of hope offered here may be used, at times, to supplement or improve nascent theories of grit, or even supplant them. It suggests alternative ways forward as we seek visions of educational effectiveness that extend beyond test scores and into the lives of children and the future of American democracy.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 3, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22085, Date Accessed: 11/20/2017 6:59:11 AM

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About the Author
  • Sarah Stitzlein
    Teachers College, University of Cincinnati
    E-mail Author
    SARAH M. STITZLEIN is an associate professor of Education and Affiliate Faculty in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cincinnati. She specializes in philosophy of education, political philosophy, educational inequality, and democratic education. Her 2012 book Teaching For Dissent: Citizenship Education and Political Activism won the American Educational Studies Association Critics Choice Award. Her newest book, American Public Education and the Responsibility of Citizens: Supporting Democracy in an Age of Accountability, will soon be published.
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