While on school vacation I’ve had a chance to catch up on Twitter feeds I’ve been missing for months. I thought for sure I had missed a ton of great, new ideas regarding teaching and education. What I realized is that the current catch phrase seems to be “grit.” Call me crazy but isn’t grit something we’ve been trying to instill within our students for many years? It’s what separates the motivated from the unmotivated. The successful individuals in this world know how to persevere and never give up. They keep at something until they get it to work. They are our problem solvers, our engineers, our dreamers, our politicians. People with grit know how to get a job done. We’ve known this for years. Those without grit struggle and often have trouble in life. While there are always going to be new strategies suggested for how to teach our students how to be gritty, the basic idea remains the same. We need to provide our students with opportunities, problems to be solved, frustrating situations, and time. We need to teach our students about mindset and the value of having a growth mindset. We need to talk to our students about the different types of people in this world and what separates them from one another. We need to talk to our students about grit and its value in our society. Again, these are not new ideas. These are all good teaching practices.
Sometimes I feel like edspeak is becoming like Hollywood, filled with remakes, sequels, and recycled ideas. If we repackage it, give it a new name and new faces, and talk about it differently then it’s something new. People will buy it, want to see it, and want to discuss it. Then people can write new books about it, hold conferences to discuss it, and find ways to get it into our culture, again. Why can’t we just talk about what good teaching looks like? Why can’t we talk about great ideas and ways to motivate our students? Why do we need to label things or give them names? Why can’t old ideas be accepted and celebrated? Just because it’s been done before, doesn’t mean it is wrong or in need of change. My old black and white iPod plays music just as well as the new fancy iPod Touch. Why do I need to replace it? Because the media tells me I need to. We can’t succumb to the pressure of what we hear, read, or see. Don’t let some new fancy idea or term fool you into thinking it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Investigate and question before we accept and embrace anything new. While new and original ideas do come about, they are rare. So, whip out those old references on how to teach and reach students and revisit them again because a lot of the ideas in those books are totally applicable now.