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ERIC Number: EJ1041786
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-1094-9046
Taking a Closer Look at the "Grit" Narratives
Socol, Ira
Knowledge Quest, v43 n1 p8-12 Sep-Oct 2014
In this article Ira Socol explores the pros and cons of Paul Tough's "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character." As Tough told Valerie Strauss, "The book is about two things: first, an emerging body of research that shows the importance of so-called non-cognitive skills in children's success; and second, a new set of experimental interventions that are trying to use that research to help improve outcomes for children, especially children growing up in disadvantage. Some of this research is decades old; some is very new. Part of what I'm trying to do in the book is to show the connections between fields of research that are generally kept quite separate, including various branches of economics, neuroscience, pediatrics, and psychology" (Strauss 2012). Socol asserts it is an important debunking of much of the so-called "research" behind the work of thirty-five years of "educational reformers," going back to the start of the Reagan Administration. And, he says, it's an important book because of its investigation of allostatic load [Allostatic load is the body's response to many kinds of stress] and what that concept requires of educators. But, Socol argues, it is a dangerous book because Tough continues to look for simple answers that will make life comfortable for his social class. It is a dangerous book because it never really asks tough questions. It is a dangerous book because it holds out those old New England Calvinist ideals--grit and hard work, the "by your own bootstraps" way to the top--as the path for the poor, without ever really acknowledging that the rich need none of that. Socol suggests that what children need is not "grit" but abundance--and slack. Herein he describes these concepts as they relate to "grit theory" and explores the impact that the works of Paul Thomas, Angela Duckworth, and Tough have on the discussion. He then addresses the origins of the myths of the Protestant Work Ethic and identity racism in the American power structure. Socol concludes by describing two examples of providing students with abundance in schools.
American Association of School Librarians. Available from: American Library Association. 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. Tel: 1-800-545-2433; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A