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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