Though the entire purpose of education is to help people live fuller lives and enjoy more opportunities, most schools are failing to teach students something more fundamental than English, algebra or chemistry. They are failing to teach “grit.”
According to Webster dictionary, grit is “firmness of mind or spirit” or “unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”
School is most likely where young people will develop their scale of grit. For instance, a student who is overwhelmed by a course such as algebra may just stop trying and fail the subject. Another student, however, may start to attend tutoring before, during and after school in order to pass the class.
The ability to push through challenges and not give up is basically what grit is all about. In fact, grit is the key to present and future success.
In her article, “Grit: The Secret Ingredient to Success,” Paula Davis-Laack, J.D., M.A.P.P., states, “Grit is having both the passion and the perseverance to achieve a goal, and grit often predicts who achieves the highest levels of success in school and at work.”
From a study conducted at West Point Military Academy, Angela Duckworth states, “…one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.”
Davis-Laack and Duckworth are simply stating what so many successful people already know: Intellect or knowledge alone will only take you so far. It is your resilience and perseverance that will determine how much you achieve in life.
Though most schools fall short in grit education, military boarding schools do not. In fact, they specialize in grit.
How Military Boarding Schools Teach Grit
Military boarding schools educate students in an extremely challenging environment. These schools are designed to educate the whole person through a system of structure, discipline and leadership training. In short, students who attend military boarding schools are not just getting prepared for the rigor of college, they are being prepared for the trials of life.
Military boarding schools effectively teach grit in at least four ways:
1. Responsibility and accountability
Every student is given duties and orders at a military boarding school. If he or she fails to complete a duty or carry out an order, there will be consequences.
Someone who fails to show up for class, for instance, will no longer have weekend liberty. Someone who does not fulfill all of his or her military duties will not be promoted.
Students learn quickly that they can abide by the rules and high expectations or they can face the real-world consequences from their lack of action. Either way, they are developing grit through personal responsibility.
2. Pushing boundaries
Military boarding schools expose young men and women to situations and experiences that push them beyond their comfort zone. The students must participate in outdoor military exercises to test themselves mentally and physically.
For example, rappelling down a 30-foot tower can be incredibly intimidating – even scary – at first. However, once the person takes the first step, every other step becomes easier, and the rappeler eventually makes his or her way down the tower.
The goal of these exercises is to help students overcome their fears and achieve more than they thought possible. They also gain an incredible amount of confidence from their outdoor victories. Pushing boundaries greatly strengthens the grit factor.
3. Work ethic and focus
Grit is not just the ability to endure, it is the ability to execute. Military boarding schools intentionally keep their students busy so they wisely manage their time and develop a strong work ethic.
Military boarding schools also teach students another important skill: focus. When students concentrate, they can finish their school work and any other tasks in a surprisingly fast manner. These schools help students focus by limiting distractions, such as television, video games and social media.
People who do more accomplish more … and accomplishment drives grit.
4. “Never give up” mentality
It may just be the warrior mentality, but those who attend military boarding schools are taught to never give up. With the right mindset, anyone can work through a problem or obstacle.
Students are also taught the difference between a setback and defeat. To try and fail is simply a setback. To not try again or to not learn from the mistake is a defeat.
The young men and women who attend these schools develop exceptional problem-solving skills. They also learn to plan ahead and set short and long-term goals so they up greatly improve their chances of success. This mentality is the foundation of grit.
Parents Also Need to Teach Grit
Some children never develop a high degree of grit because their parents have made their lives too stress-free. Children cannot learn grit if they are always being relieved of responsibility, or “let off the hook.”
Here is a classic example. A child wants to play baseball, so his father signs him up. A few games into the season, the son complains that baseball is “boring” and wants to quit.
The father can allow his son to quit immediately or allow him to quit AFTER he has completed the season. The father who teaches his son to finish what he starts will help him learn grit.
Here is another instance. A teenager is failing her Advanced Placement English course. She asks her mother for permission to take a “regular” English course.
The mother can allow her daughter to take the lower-level English class or she can tell her daughter to pick up her grade or lose her car privileges. The mother who teaches her daughter to put forth the extra effort will help her learn grit.
Grit is basically mental toughness; consequently, it does require a little bit of “tough love.”
Discover How Your Son Can Develop Grit
Do you have a son with huge potential but little grit? Marine Military Academy may be just the school your son needs. Learn more at www.MMA-TX.org or call 956.423.6006.
Maj Harold Compton & Andi Atkinson