I have read that many people interviewing students and young adults for jobs or even college admission look for how much “grit” the candidate has. I have often wondered how that could be measured or assessed, and then I heard that there actually are several “grit scales” out there and that it can, in fact, be measured. Another word for grit could be determination or stick-to-itiveness. Possessing grit means that one is able to stay focused on a goal and is not easily deterred. I would add that it should not simply imply being hard headed; it should also take into account the ability to listen to the ideas and opinions of others and sometimes incorporating them, while having the discipline to remain true to yourself and your pursuits.
I have no worries about our students scoring well on one of these evaluations or interviews. Here are some examples of the perseverance, grit, and determination of our Upper School students at Harpeth Hall. Our soccer team’s triumph in the state tournament last weekend tops the list. If the community had chosen a particular season and a particular year for our soccer team to become the state champions, it might not have been this team at this time. So what brought them this victory? I have no doubt that grit and determination went hand and hand with skill, team work, and excellent coaching. The tenacity of this team in the face of setback has made the pure joy in their accomplishment that much sweeter for them and for our entire school.
On more than one occasion, I have heard a senior tell me something that has been a goal of hers since she came to Harpeth Hall in the 5th grade. Sometimes a student reaches the goal before she graduates and sometimes she reaches it in college or beyond. The dedication and discipline of our musicians, artists, actors, and dancers is a beautiful illustration of hard work, grit, and determination. Day after day I see our students set goals or re-set goals to be more engaged in their classes and work harder to understand the material in a class more fully. They are determined to ask the teacher for help, do homework alongside a classmate who can offer assistance, or re-write a paper after it is returned to gain a deeper understanding of how to be a better writer. After perhaps an appropriately brief period of distraction here or there, they re-dedicate themselves to their work again and again.
I recently listened to a speech by one of our juniors, given when she was a sophomore. She already possesses the ability, at such an uncharacteristically young age, to see the bigger picture of diversity and acceptance in her community and the real need for this improved cultural competence on a larger scale in the world. Because I have seen a diligence and maturity coupled with grit in this young person, I have no doubt she will accomplish great things in her life. It strikes me that when talking about grit, we adults should probably step aside. These students and young alumnae have it all over us on this particular scale.