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Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence? 249

HughPickens.com writes Anna North writes in the NYT that self-control, curiosity, and "grit" may seem more personal than academic, but at some schools, they're now part of the regular curriculum. Some researchers say personality could be even more important than intelligence when it comes to students' success in school. "We probably need to start rethinking our emphasis on intelligence," says Arthur E. Poropat citing research that shows that both conscientiousness and openness are more highly correlated with student performance than intelligence. "This isn't to say that we should throw intelligence out, but we need to pull back on thinking that this is the only game in town." The KIPP network of charter schools emphasizes grit along with six other "character strengths," including self-control and curiosity. "We talk a lot about them as being skills or strengths, not necessarily traits, because it's not innate," says Leyla Bravo-Willey. "If a child happens to be very gritty but has trouble participating in class, we still want them to develop that part of themselves."

But the focus on character has encountered criticism. "To begin with, not everything is worth doing, let alone doing for extended periods, and not everyone who works hard is pursuing something worthwhile" says Alfie Kohn. "On closer inspection, the concept of grit turns out to be dubious, as does the evidence cited to support it. Persistence can actually backfire and distract from more important goals." There's other evidence that grit isn't always desirable. Gritty people sometimes exhibit what psychologists call "nonproductive persistence": They try, try again, says Dean MacFarlin though the result may be either unremitting failure or "a costly or inefficient success that could have been easily surpassed by alternative courses of action."
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Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:07AM (#48792165)

    intelligence = engine
    grit = tires
    personality=gas type (ethanol, diesel, electric, etc)

    in this road of life...(get it? get it?)

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      I like to think(assuming non-superconductive environments)
      intelligence = amps
      grit = volts

      The real question is, what's intelligence?
    • Isn't the point of this whole debate whether intelligence is the engine or grit is the engine?
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:38AM (#48793187)

        Isn't the point of this whole debate whether intelligence is the engine or grit is the engine?

        If you RTFA you will see that the "debate" is about what makes people successful in school, not what makes them successful in life. If you dumb down the curriculum, so that intelligence matters less, and "grit" (just completing the assignments) matters more, then it should not be too surprising that the data shows that intelligence matters less and grit matters more, because that is the way the system is intentionally designed.

        • by TopherC ( 412335 )

          This hits the issue on the nose. Thanks!

          I was reading Kohn's article on this just a couple days ago, and thought he made a lot of good points. It might help to know that one perspective of Kohn's is realizing the limitations and over-utilization of testing, and standardized testing in particular. "Grit" may be, in proper moderation, a good thing. But the positive feedback cycle that relentless accountability and academic assessment provides can go haywire here, rewarding students for being persistent to a f

    • Intelligence is a meaningless label assigned to a collection of attributes. Those attributes change with time and circumstances.

      Keep in mind that the ultimate test of intelligence is survival.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have known many persistent idiots. Things would have been much better for all concerned if they would have just quit trying and ask for help.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @12:36PM (#48793641)

      I have known many persistent idiots.

      These people are the fourth quadrant of General von Hammerstein-Equord's classification. He rated German officers on two axises, intelligence and diligence. Officers that were intelligent and diligent made good staff officers. Officers that were intelligent and lazy, made good commanders because they would appropriately delegate work to others. Officers that were stupid and lazy, could be assigned to routine duties. Officers that were stupid and diligent, should be shot.

  • What does grit have to do with conscientiousness and openness? I would consider grit to be the opposite of both.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      grit is essentially determination - the will to continue despite your feelings. This has certainly seen many a job finished that would otherwise not even have been started. We combat this in life by waving money around, and this seems to get things moving! Grit, is the ability to do that to yourself. Although not directly an attribute of intelligence, it does mean someone may study something longer and harder, and discover more about it. That's pretty important, and will help someone less intelligent t

  • by TrollstonButterbeans ( 2914995 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:17AM (#48792197)
    Balance. Intelligence is knowing when to give up and go back to the drawing board.

    Without persistence, intelligence is an unfulfilled and wasted gift. Without intelligence, persistence is an exercise in futility. Which is why less intelligent people depend on social feedback to make decisions.

    It's not hard.

    Psychologists relearning what has been known for centuries. Someone didn't read their own textbooks ...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Balance. Intelligence is knowing when to give up and go back to the drawing board.

      No, that is Wisdom not intelligence.

    • Which is why my favourite prayer is the Serenity Prayer [wikipedia.org]

      God, give me grace to accept with serenity
      the things that cannot be changed,
      Courage to change the things
      which should be changed,
      and the Wisdom to distinguish
      the one from the other.

      Amen.
    • . Intelligence is knowing when to give up and go back to the drawing board.

      Cue obligatory obscure Ernest video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:34AM (#48792299)

    One of the greatest tragedies in our times is the idea that all children should get the same education. It is the oddest thing. We all admit that children actually start off at different levels.

    But rather than do what is best for each child, we pretend there is some sort of universal curriculum that all children should follow. It's just not the case.

    Grit, self-control, curiousity are probably very important if your main goal is to get a job and provide for your family.

    I was a teacher for a while, and this was the most frustrating things. Having to teach kids in a 'non-academic neighborhood' for lack of a better term, as I taught in both inner-city type schools as well as rural 'trashy' schools. I'm up there teaching math these kids couldn't care about and is going to be of little use to any of them in their future. Yet, that is the curriculum, because it is standardized and they happen to be in grade 10.

    To these kids, teaching them some grit, self-control, curiosity would probably benefit them 1000x more and improve their life and the next generation.

    Yet, somehow it is considered unfair if we did that because then we'd be admitting they are not as advanced as other kids. Yes, they're not. That is why people would classify them as a trouble neighborhood or whatever.

    Then of course you have other kids who might not suffer the same problem and maybe for them you need to focus more on intelligence and academics.

    Ultimately, I'd rather have the school system deal with the reality of children by using different methods on different groupings of children as opposed to pretending everyone is the same when they're not.

    And no, I'm not saying there aren't any brilliant kids in a ghetto school. They do exist. One might say, I was one of them. I'm saying it is pretty easy to keep us happy. Just having academic streams in high school or give us other classes. Maybe school wasn't optimized for me, but in the end, I have a decent job and make decent money. Let's face it, how many children from ghetto neighborhoods are working at Google?

    But as far as social issues go, our biggest problems are not optimizing intelligence for advanced R&D here. It's the basics for most of the population and it is there that grit, self-control, curiosity are really much better.

    And yes, maybe that formalizes the reality that if you're in a ghetto school, you would be more educated to just get a job. And if you are in a rich area, you are more educated to do advanced academic work.

    Yes, maybe it formalizes it. But it's not like without that formalization, it isn't true today.

    But I guess, that's political correctness. Better to have poor people suffer, than formalize that they're different in this time and place.

    • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:53AM (#48792389) Homepage Journal
      Risk and reward. Poor kids are much better off pursuing low-risk, moderate-reward strategies rather than high-risk, high-reward strategies, because in the event of failure, they don't have anything to fall back on. The children of the upper middle class can aim for the stars, knowing that they won't end up in the mud if they miss. Climbing the ladder takes generations.
    • by conquistadorst ( 2759585 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @10:07AM (#48792467)

      To these kids, teaching them some grit, self-control, curiosity would probably benefit them 1000x more and improve their life and the next generation.

      Yet, somehow it is considered unfair if we did that because then we'd be admitting they are not as advanced as other kids. Yes, they're not.

      It's a great thought but which is worse, denying them opportunities for social mobility or teaching them only what they need to know? I know we have tons of problems in the US but the idea still survives here that you can reach for any rung in the ladder if you dare and work to climb. We wouldn't want to jeopardize that. So I think you just have to do both. I'd also further argue the primary responsibility of teaching children grit, self-control, curiosity lies with the family. Schools can only be asked to reinforce it. We really need to return to the notion that families raise their own kids and they go to school primarily for education and everything else is secondary.

      I was raised in an immigrant family with humble beginnings and very high expectations. That was reinforced on a near daily basis. How could we ever expect teachers to teach that? It's just not their place.

      • by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:31AM (#48793129)

        I agree with you, but here's the issue.

        I'm also a child of immigrant parents. We were poor and we made it quite well.

        As you say, maybe your parents taught you grit, self-control, curiosity. Mine did as well. Good for us. We are truly fortunate in that sense. More fortunate than some rich kid whose parents didn't and is now on high-end drugs.

        You can sit there and say parents should do this and that. But they're NOT. I reread my post and I hope it doesn't come across as saying all poor kids should just get basic education and all rich kids should get advanced education. I can see how it can be read that way.

        It is more that public education should be geared to the needs of most of the children in the neighborhood.

        If the parents aren't doing the job. Great, do whatever you can to fix that. But until you do fix it and have all these kids raised by decent parents, schools have to deal with the reality of the students as is. It just so happens that if parents aren't teaching their kids grit-self-control-curiousity... then I would say schools should be allowed to focus on that and focus less on 'academics'. Right now, this is impossible with standard curriculum.

        Would this deny opportunities? That's an odd question. In either case, you're denying kids opportunities if that's the language you choose to use.

        If you have a class of 20 and 15 of then would benefit more from grit/self-control/curiosity and 5 would benefit from advanced academics... no matter how you focus your school you're denying some kids the opportunity. You're be holding back 15 kids from a decent job and future in favour of the 5 kids if you just blindly go on focusing on academics. Of course if you focus on the 15 kids, you might hold back the 5 kids.

        Ideally, you offer different policies for all kids. But assuming you some standards in each school, I'd rather tailor the school to the 15 to get them decent jobs and life.
        Kids who already have grit/self-control/curiosity can pursue their own academic pursuits especially in this day and age of the internet.
        I was programming long before I even took such a course in school. That is what you can do when you already have those basic values.
        Also advanced classes can be used to separate thing or after school programs...
        It is much easier to provide advanced classes to kids who already have grit/self-control/curiosity.

        As I said, this is why my preference would be to focus on the 15 instead of the 5. The social costs of kids not getting advanced academics is a lot less than the social costs of the 15 kids not getting a decent job and learning basic life skills. Like I said, I went to a 'ghetto' school and no doubt, I lacked a lot of things (and this is in Canada). I lacked a good computer club, good network of academic kids, connections with industry... but whatever, in the end, I'm pretty okay. Most of the academic ones from my high school are. It's the rest you have to be concerned about.

    • Honestly, starting the first lines, I was already planning to "counter" you with the fact that homogenization was the sort of necessary foundation for mass schooling, and while the model may be recognized to be over-simplistic today (what we have today is largely the same as the public school system invented by Fred the Great in the 18th century) it's still sensible to build an educational system primarily for the 95% (or 90%, or even 65%) of the population that it does serve, than the build it for the marg

    • Perhaps a Montessori education [wikipedia.org] is what you're advocating? Which I like, but God is it expensive! But then again, so is any school with a low student to teacher ratio; because that's what you're really paying for. Aside from being a good parent, if you're going to invest in your children's future, this would be one way of doing it.

    • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
      Kudos for being a teacher who recognizes the difference between criticizing structural problems in the system and being "anti-education". It seems harder and harder to get educators to listen to the kinds of ideas you expressed here, because any criticism of the system is taken as a personal attack on teachers. Do you find other teachers are open to the ideas you're expressing here?
      • It depends. I should have a disclaimer saying I no longer teach, although I am still qualified. I'm also in Ontario, Canada for some context.

        I'd actually say most of the older teachers agreed with me, but ultimately take a... this is what the board says we have to do kind of mentality.

        I tend to find more of the younger teachers a little more ideological on these issues; perhaps due to more education in these aspects.

    • Let's face it, how many children from ghetto neighborhoods are working at Google?

      Not to detract from your point, but there are a fair number of people from ghetto and poor rural neighborhoods working at Google. I'd estimate that about 5% of American Google engineers come from a background that could be described that way. That's just a guess based on personal observation, but I think it's probably not too far off the mark. My current team has a much higher percentage of people from low-income backgrounds -- probably 50% -- but it's an atypical team in many ways.

  • The Full List (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:39AM (#48792323) Homepage Journal

    The full list:

    • Zest
    • Grit
    • Optimism
    • Self-Control
    • Gratitude
    • Social Intelligence
    • Curiosity

    I read through the description for each. At first I thought maybe this stuff was all a little too touchy-feely, but the descriptions seem reasonable. My main quibble is these should be things parents are instilling in their kids not the educators. I want Educators to focus on presenting knowledge, not crafting personalities. That said, so many children lack good guidance at home it is tempting to throw this in with the educator’s responsibilities as well.

    As the parent of a Straight ‘A’ gifted child I can say for a fact Hard Work is the most important factor. Call this Grit if you want. Also IQ is not static. Working hard at any age WILL raise your IQ. There are those that say it varies by at most 10 points, but I know both for myself and my daughter it is over 20 points higher than both our first testings.

    • Re:The Full List (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @10:16AM (#48792533)

      As the parent of a Straight ‘A’ gifted child I can say for a fact Hard Work is the most important factor.

      As a former straight A gifted child, I can say that you're wrong. Maybe hard work is the most important factor for your daughter, but you can't extrapolate from her to every successful student.

      The only year in my education in which I worked hard was my first year at university, partly because I didn't know how good I was relative to my peers and wanted to compete, partly because a quarter of my course was material which I did actually need to work at, and partly because my one-on-one for that material was with someone who really pushed me. When I finished in the top three and won a scholarship, I didn't feel the need to prove myself in the second and third years, and I had more freedom to choose courses which I found easy. The most important factors for my academic success were intuition, a memory which was good at retaining the things that matters for the subjects I chose, and curiosity.

      Just to be completely clear: I'm not knocking hard work. The person who finished first in my course in the second year was a friend whom I met up with once or twice a week to explain the things they hadn't understood in lectures. I think they worked quite hard, and maybe I could have finished first if I'd worked harder. But I preferred to spend about twenty hours a week working and have lots of time to participate in various student societies, because university is about more than grades. (I still got first class honours, so I didn't judge it too badly!)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I would hazard a guess that your curiosity drove you to spend time doing things (reading, playing with computers, etc) that others considered work. They certainly did for me. It didn't FEEL like work, but it's the reason college was so easy for me.

    • I feel like it's a set of traits that seems tailored to fit a very narrow mold. Favoring optimism over pessimism, for example, is problematic. This is especially true if, in practice, what is emphasized is simply being optimistic, as opposed to the more specific traits mentioned, like being able to continue after failure and realize potential opportunities.
  • Oh great, and then we get to debate who really has true grit. I introduce to you the Rooster Cogburn fallacy. "Only one man has true grit, and that is Rooster Cogburn. You don't have true grit, so you must not be Rooster Cogburn".
  • If a person is both intelligent and curious/motivated they will do VERY well in academia. One without the other will help, but you really need both to do well. And, IMHO, you really can't teach either. They have to come from innate ability and from inside the student themselves.

    Now, that's in academia. Life is a different story. Success in life depends more on charisma and luck. Intelligence and motivation play a much lesser role there.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:42AM (#48792345)

    ... One of the reasons these efforts to harmonize national education policy are foolish is that they limit what various schools are trying or can try.

    I am all for any school trying something so long as the parents stand behind it.

    If the parents want to try this "grit" concept... then go for it. It can't hurt so long as it is tried on a small scale.

    Too often things go directly from some theory in academia to broad application without testing the concept empirically on the small scale. I am all for those that come up with new education ideas pitching them to individual schools and seeing if they work.

    If they do, then broaden the application to a district or a state. And if that works well then suggest that other schools adopt the concept as well. But always let schools decide to ignore the new thing as well because they might be trying something entirely different.

    Diversity is more then skin color and gender. It is also diversity of thought, ideas, and method. Let people do things their own way and judge them by the results. Concepts that are successful should earn respect and wider adoption. Concepts that are failures should earn shame and reduced application.

  • We're talking primary and secondary education here. You never needed that much intelligence to get through it, you only had to not more than 1 sigma below the mean. And the curriculum isn't getting any harder intelligence-wise. Further, certain common pedagogic techniques (e.g. large numbers of similar homework problems) reward persistence over intelligence. "A costly and inefficient success" gets you the same grade, if not better, than an easy one.

    So "grit" is probably more important than intelligence

  • "We probably need to start rethinking our emphasis on intelligence," says Arthur E. Poropat citing research that shows that both conscientiousness and openness are more highly correlated with student performance than intelligence. " Or maybe we need to start rethinking why intelligence is less correlated with student performance than conscientiousness. In school i've seen a lot of stubborn idiots, who were successfull because they got on the teachers nerves until the teacher gave them good grades. or peopl
    • This is a good point. A lot of where grades come from is about being conscientious - turning things in on time, listening to directions, etc. However, I think it is arguable that this is a good thing, because in the work world, and life in general, being conscientious is going to do more for you than being intelligent, up to a certain point.

      That is, a serious deficiency in conscientiousness is one of the fastest ways I know of to get fired from almost any kind of job, whereas people with below average intel

  • by Salamander ( 33735 ) <jeffNO@SPAMpl.atyp.us> on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:44AM (#48792361) Homepage Journal

    What Poropat, Duckworth, and others suggest is that multiple traits - including "grit" - contribute to success. He even provides evidence to back up that hardly-surprising conclusion. So how does Kohn respond? By immediately projecting a "one trait uber alles" mentality onto the grit proponents. To be even more clear, he's attributing to them exactly the idea they're trying to refute. Then he cherry-picks examples of excessive persistence leads to adverse outcomes, ignoring the issue of whether those outcomes would be likely to occur in people who had developed other traits such as curiosity and openness. In the end he only demonstrates further the problems with any single-trait theory of learning, supporting exactly the point he meant to oppose.

    Maybe his parents or teachers should have helped Kohn develop some more of those other traits. Like honesty.

  • It's a sad truth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XB-70 ( 812342 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:50AM (#48792375)
    All the grit in the world won't help a kid who is an idiot!

    That being said, never praise a kid for being smart. Always praise hard work.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:52AM (#48792381) Homepage

    Of course raw intelligence isn't the be-all and end-all about how much you can achieve.

    Look at the mensa members who work as security guards.

    If you're smart, but lazy, you won't achieve much either.

    Hell, I think I've met more than one person who would have qualified for mensa who went on to become seriously messed up people.

    Your score on an IQ test doesn't define you.

    • Being a member of mensa indicates you failed the selection criteria for membership in mensa.
      • Re:Mensa paradox. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @10:19AM (#48792555) Homepage

        Being a member of mensa, in my personal experience, makes you an insufferable ass who wants to brag about your IQ. Because everyone I've ever met who said they were in it, was an insufferable ass who wanted to brag about their IQ.

        I have yet to meet a single person who joined who didn't come across as a complete tool.

        I've been in a room full of nerds and geeks, and one person stated proudly they were in mensa, as if the rest of us should care.

        The mocking was pretty incessant as everyone else let it be known how little they cared or respected that claim.

        I find mensa far more interesting for the sheer number of incredibly smart people I've known who want nothing to do with it.

  • Grit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:52AM (#48792387)
    Wikipedia defines grit as:

    Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's passion for a particular long-term goal or endstate, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.

    Which sounds about right to me. I've never scored in the upper two percentiles on IQ tests (quite frankly I always found them rather stupid) but I still finished at the top of my class at Uni. I put that down to compensating for any lacking intelligence with an awful lot of work and persistence. Whenever this topic comes up I am reminded of Stephen Hawking, who is undoubtedly very intelligent. I remember him claiming in a documentary I watched years ago that if he hadn't been struck by this disability would probably not have amounted to much because he would have been drifting from one interesting project to the other like a butterfly without ever making much impact but since his disability severely limited his options he was in effect forced to stay/persist within a relatively narrow field where he has made a huge contribution. Intelligence on it's own is not enough. Upbringing also has a lot to do with whether you can make anything of it. If your parents raised you without any attempts to boost your self esteem and help you get over any timidity you suffer from, no amount of intelligence is going to make up for that.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:59AM (#48792423) Journal
    Given that there is some evidence that this 'grit' can be modified, potentially even at school age and during the course of school, is this really a question worth asking?

    Barring advances that team neurology and team psychopharmacology have been rather less than inspiring about, 'intelligence' is what you are stuck with(or without). We know some things about what not to screw up if you want a better shot at it(lead is bad, childhood malnutrition isn't so good, etc.); but by the time kiddo hits school, your options have closed substantially.

    So, instead of navel gazing about 'is grit or intelligence more important?', wouldn't it make more sense to suck it up, deal with the intelligences that you have, not those you may want or wish to have at some future time, and ask 'what is this 'grit' and how favorably does attempting to develop it compare to other possible uses of time?'
  • The charter people say the traditional schools are wrong for only teaching intelligence, because reasons. The traditional people say the charter school is wrong for focusing more on personality, because reasons. So everyone is wrong. Who's right?

    If only we had some kind of methodology for figuring out whether an idea is wrong or right. I think I'd call it...science.

    • Which begs the question. Have we agreed on a definition for "intelligence"? The most agreeable definition I know was "it's what you can measure with your flavour of IQ test".

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @10:36AM (#48792655) Journal

    ...perhaps it's more subtle generally than some sort of "pop-psych" binary choice?

    Seriously, people, are Slashdot articles really nothing more than clickbait any more?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      The articles have turned to crap a long time ago. The discussions are pretty good sometimes, if you filter out the 70% posturing and/or clueless idiots.

  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @10:37AM (#48792659) Homepage

    Gritty people sometimes exhibit what psychologists call "nonproductive persistence": They try, try again, says Dean MacFarlin though the result may be either unremitting failure or "a costly or inefficient success that could have been easily surpassed by alternative courses of action."

    Well, maybe blaming them for that is just like blaming people for buying non-winning lottery tickets. Why didn't they do like that guy over there, and buy a winning ticket instead?

    You quickly run into decidability problems when deciding on optimal strategies of inquiry in the general case. The only time you know with 100% certainty whether persistence will pay off, or whether it's time to give up and look around for other solutions, is when you basically already know the answer.

    There's no way good solutions can be found without "wasting" a lot of effort on fruitless paths - and whether the waste and success happens in the same person, or over a large group of people, what difference does it make?

    • There is no perfect way to avoid fruitless effort, but a number of steps can be done to minimize them, including understanding of defining principles for how something functions.
    • everyone who ever had to give estimations for some software development task will be able to confirm that.

    • I often pursue a "fruitless path" trying to find a solution to a particular problem. Funny thing is, that is often when I learn something about some unrelated problems in IT. You can learn from all experience. Some are more useful than others for a particular problem, but learning in general is useful.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @10:48AM (#48792753) Homepage
    Grit will take you to 3rd place.

    Intelligence will take you to 1st.

    Grit will make you the head of the Physics Department.

    Intelligence will let you discover Relativity while working in a Patent office.

    But the thing is you can't teach or give people Intelligence. You can however, teach Grit.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. And you can focus so much on grit, that those with high intelligence get under the wheels. That is exceedingly bad for society as a whole.

    • But you can take intelligence away, with as simple a device as asking a poor person to imagine an expensive car repair [businessinsider.com].
      • It's interesting to speculate on the causality in that correlation. The obvious expectation is that the emotional state engendered by a big and unavoidable expense causes a reduction in intelligence, and that it's the relative scale of the expense which causes the difference between poor and wealthy people. However, it's also possible that the ability to continue thinking clearly in the fact of disastrous expense is what enables people to build and preserve wealth. In fact, I think resilience of that sort i

        • However, it's also possible that the ability to continue thinking clearly in the fact of disastrous expense is what enables people to build and preserve wealth. In fact, I think resilience of that sort is clearly a big factor in wealth.

          The researchers should try scaling the size of the disastrous expense relative to the subjects' wealth.

          That's an interesting idea, and I'd love to know the outcome of an experiment like that. I can say anecdotally that facing large and uncertain legal bills over the course

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      How do you teach grit, anyway?

      It seems obvious to me that among two individuals with roughly equal intelligence, the one with the grit, work ethic, etc will generally be more successful since much of what is defined as "success" seems to do with the ability to "apply yourself" and "work hard" and so on.

      The trouble is, how do you teach them? And how are those traits related to other external items like wealth? For example, a person of average intelligence who comes from a well-off family may do better in c

      • Grit is easy to teach.

        Step 1) Praise and Reward Hard Work, rather than success. Two people do a scientific research. One takes 20 hours of work and gets a positive result. He gets a B+ and $20. Another takes 100 hours work and a negative result. Give him an A+ and $100.

        Step 2) Repeat system for 10 years.

        To get grit, you need to use grit. That is why you need to repeat for 10 years.

        The poor and wealthy kid applying to college? The poor kid took a minimum wage job for 2 years to pay for the first

      • by TheSync ( 5291 )

        How do you teach grit, anyway?

        My wife taught me grit. We fell in love despite my inability to even keep a clean room, and then she started slowly with things like "clean up your mess" then "here is a list of things to get done" then "maybe you should make your own lists of things you need to get done" etc...

        Both positive and negative rewards were given to me!

        Anyway, she helped me pick up a reasonable amount of grit to go with my intelligence. Now I need to stop reading Slashdot for the day!

    • Conjecture: achievement = intelligence * grit
      So 1.5 * .75 is the same as .75 * 1.5, so you can get to the same place with the right combination of either.

      Maybe the really great people are good at both.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:10AM (#48792937) Homepage Journal

    My intelligence helped me in the areas that I had a natural aptitude. My grit got my through the areas that I didn't. I needed both to get me where I am today.

  • Neither (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:10AM (#48792941) Journal

    Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

    Neither of those is important. What's important is how wealthy your parents are. That's the biggest determining factor in your success in education.

    • Re:Neither (Score:4, Insightful)

      by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @01:12PM (#48794065)

      [quote]Neither of those is important. What's important is how wealthy your parents are. That's the biggest determining factor in your success in education.[/quote]
      Fortunately, that holds less in countries with a nog so right-extremistic view to economics than the US. This is one thing the west should take over from the former USSR: free education for everyone who shows talent.

  • If you have higher intelligence, then you can see how stupid or far too easy most of the things you are expected to lean in school are. You can also see how full off themselves many teachers are, while possessing mediocre to bad actual skills. Hence people with high intelligence have to overcome significant motivational issues in school. Of course for actual academic achievements (at university in a non-fluff subject), you need both higher intelligence and determination to be successful.

  • Add talent and sheer luck to every factor for academic and general success named in the summary.

    You won't get far if one of them is missing. If you have a minimum of all these, that's probably 30% of success. The missing 70% can be provided by any of those factors. IMHO.

  • I would agree that grit is critical to success, but not actually accomplishing anything. Years ago I was offered a Dilbert like bit of advice in an office which was "Don't go anywhere without a clipboard or file in your hand; even if you are heading to a meeting or doing something productive, enough people wander around socializing that not looking productive for even a moment will lump you in with the useless sorts."

    But I have seen variations of this in the school system with my favourite example being m
  • Given my experience with public education, I expect someone will take this idea seriously, and then we'll see classes on "grit" and "persistence" which will consist of a teacher telling kids that they should have "grit" and "persistence". Of course, they won't explain what these concepts mean to the children, because the teachers themselves won't understand it. But they will punish the students and generally try to make them feel bad for failing to live up to these ideals. A student seems hesitant to par

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:29AM (#48793109)
    It took me many years to realize that laziness was the best quality a person could have. A lazy person invented the shovel while the gritty geterdoners were still digging with their hands. A lazy person invented the backhoe when the industrious were busy digging with their shovels. A lazy person invented the automobile when their hard working neighbors were grooming their horses.
    • by johanw ( 1001493 )

      Indeed. Didn't Einstein say that a good physicist is lazy: instead of doing tedious calculations the smart physicist finds a way to do them faster. He once (half-jokingly I guess) wrote that he did an important invention when he started using what is now known as the summation convention: to add equall co/contravariant indices on tensors. Saves one writing the sumation symbols and makes the equations much more clear.

  • People who are able to bullsh*t others into believing their bullsh*t will always trump those with real intelligence and experience who try desperately to pull back the curtain on the "wizard."

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      And the socipaths win out over everyone. Because manipulating others is the core of their personal philosophy. And they become dangerous when someone trys to 'pull back the curtain'.

  • by vince bardsley ( 2881429 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @12:07PM (#48793407)
    As a 32 year classroom teacher I agree that intelligence alone isn't a good measure. Given a dozen 'gifted' kids and a problem to be solved you end up with a dozen gifted kids and a problem. Given a dozen kids who know how to work and there will be progress on solving the problem (and a dozen kids who are better for having struggled with it).
  • I'm amazed that the most basic universal human rights are still not effectively taught in schools. It would help the world a lot if people simply understood the most basic one. It's almost as old as humanity itself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule/ [wikipedia.org]

  • Persistance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @12:51PM (#48793811)

    From TFA:

    There's other evidence that grit isn't always desirable. Gritty people sometimes exhibit what psychologists call "nonproductive persistence"

    I've worked at companies where the bosses pay is based on how many people report to him. He wants a large staff with 'grit'. Not some smart-ass engineer who trys to clean up the process and do the same job with 1/10th of the staff.

  • The way "intelligence" is used falls more under the heading of what I'd call "the skills you have". Some are innate physical abilities, many are probably learned but we don't really know when or how so they end up just being things that naturally come easy to you. They're the hand you're dealt. Grit and persistence are useful then in making the most of the skills you have, practicing and refining them to get the most out of the hand you're dealt. Both are needed. We all know people who just don't get math,

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