Curiosity and Grit

(This is a part of the Deeper Learning Story Bank. Add your story!)

Story title: Curiosity and Grit

Submitted by: Monica Ready
Napa High School

DL story: My two and a half year old daughter is in an imaginative stage and I’m in awe at the pictures she sees in her mind. My husband and I, both educators, sit on blankets in our family room with moon suits (bathing suits and sun caps) on and travel to Jupiter’s rings. She asks questions about planets, the ants crawling in our house (not fun), nature, and much more. She has a world that she explores that isn’t real to us and it’s fascinating. But my wonder doesn’t stop at the door to my home; everyday I go to work as an administrator at a secondary school and I question where that sense of awe and wonder has gone. When do kids lose their curiosity? Why? How do we continue to engage them in exploration? How do we make them wonder?

These questions become ever more important to me when I look at my daughter and the students who pass through my office or the hallways of my school every day. I don’t want them to loose their imagination and sense of wonder. As I read about Kirk Phelps in Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators, the importance of exploration was reiterated and connected to the idea of grit (Duckworth). Phelps was able to lead a team to build the screen of the iPhone because he continued to push for exploration. He continued to ask “what if we do it this way or that way?” (Wagner, 45). This was my moment of discovery: when kids lose their curiosity, they lose their determination to persevere, their grit. When students lose their grit, they lose their confidence. The act of persevering through challenges builds stamina, resilience, and confidence. If we don’t allow kids the opportunity to explore, imagine, attempt the unknown, fail, try again, and succeed, then we’ve lost the entrepreneurial mindset; we’ve lost what makes America successful: the ability to innovate. As educators and parents, we need to ask, how do we continue to foster grit? We must allows students to try, fail, and try again. We must believe in a growth mindset that is clearly defined by Carol Dweck. We must allows students to explore and play. With the level of inquiry and application in the Common Core State Standards, now is the perfect time to let the pendulum swing back to curiosity and grit.

Believing in yourself (academic mindsets), Making things

One thought on “Curiosity and Grit

  1. Hi Monica!

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful DL story!

    As I was reading your piece, I was reminded of a quote from J.D. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey”:

    “Seymour once said to me – in a crosstown bus, of all places – that all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold.”

    Although this quote is in direct reference to religion and spirituality, I always see a connection to the notion of “unlearning the differences” and our students (I teach 12th grade) dwindling sense of wonder and creativity. What are the “differences” that our students see and how do those “differences” keep them from diving freely into their own sense of wonder and creativity?

    Also, I LOVED the bridge you built between creativity and grit. Forget it’s relevance to our students…that’s a great reminder for me in my own existence!

    Thanks again for sharing!

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