Learn Academic English 5: Grit – the power of passion and perseverance

Today we are going to discuss Angela Duckworth’ TED talk.
Angela is a psychologist and an expert on ‘grit’ and its effect on performance.
Both Angela’s successful TED talk and her bestseller book ‘The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ created in educational circles a lot of buzz and excitement.

Many teachers and parents started to look frantically for effective ways to develop children’s ‘grit’.

After I had watched the talk, I asked myself if Angela indeed discovered a holy grail of education and I decided that it would a great topic for another academic lesson.

So guys, what do you think about her talk? Is ‘grit’ really that important? Or is it just another fad?

Whatever your take on that is, I believe it is an important talk for all prospective international students. You will need lots of conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience (so in one word – grit) to succeed at university abroad.


The lesson is divided into two parts. First students watch the TED talk that provides some background knowledge on grit.
Than more ambitious students can read an academic journal article shedding more scientific light on the concept.
Words and expressions needed to comprehend the lesson:

management consulting
stratospheric IQ scores
advance farthest
rookie teachers
inversely related
standardized achievement test scores
improving learning outcomes

Answer the questions using Angela’s TED talk and information found on the Internet

Angela became a teacher after her career in management consulting.
What transferable skills she had probably developed as a consultant could help her with her teaching?
What are the challenges of a management consulting job?
What challenges do teachers experience?
Angela said that she was firmly convinced that all her students could learn the material if they worked hard and long enough. Can it be the case of ‘the curse of knowledge’? Explain.
What is the definition of grit?
Do alternative definitions of grit exist?
How can we measure grit?
Why is grit important?
Does grit predict success?
Does grit predict success better than IQ?
Do we know how to build grit?
What is a reliable intelligence test for school children?
Is parents’ education a better predictor of success than grit?
What is the difference between the ‘growth mindset’ and ‘grid’?
Why is grit a non-cognitive trait?
Is grit a by-product of passion?
What is the difference between grit and resilience?
Is a single trait like grit more important than the combination of traits?

Credé, Tynan, and Harms in 2017 conducted a meta-analysis of research on grit. Read it.
Credé, M., Tynan, M. C., & Harms, P. D. (2017). Much ado about grit: A meta-analytic synthesis of the grit literature. Journal of Personality and social Psychology, 113(3), 492.
Answer the questions

What are the authors’ conclusions about grit as a preditor pf success and performance?
How would you interpret Angela’s talk in light of the evidence provided by Credé, Tynan, & Harmm (2017).
What variables predicted performance in the study?
What would you say about the sample size used in the study?

Writing task

Write a 600-word summary of Angela’s talk.
Assume a skeptical stance toward the idea that grit predicts success.
Provide evidence supporting your arguments.