Playing Field of Grit

hard thing rule

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Chapter 11 Review)

The author says that if she could, she would put every kid in the world to do have an extracurricular activity. She says that those activities help develop grit in children, but there aren’t many studies on that because no parents want to force their kids to do activities.

An activity that is both interesting and hard can develop grit. She says school might be hard but it isn’t interesting, while texting is interesting but it isn’t hard. But an activity like ballet can be both.

Research shows that kids who have extracurricular activities have better grades. A scientist named Warren did a lengthy research on that.

The author decided to make a similar research and got help from the Gates Foundation to get 1200 high school seniors to list their extracurricular activities.

If they had an activity they did for two or more years they would get a point, while anything less didn’t get a point. If they’ve been doing it for long enough, they get an extra point.

Two years later, 69% of kids who scored higher went into college, while only 16% of the kids who scored 0 were in college.

The author also points out how it could also be interpreted as that only naturally gritty people can follow through extracurricular activities. She came to the conclusion that doing an activity for that long both requires grit and builds it.

Bill was particularly worried about kids who have no access to extracurricular activities. Poorer high schools have been excluding arts and music from the available activities. Students in wealthier high schools have been consistently doing extracurricular activities for the past decade, while the poorer students’ activities activity have gradually started dropping. It gives less chance for the poorer students to develop grit.

Robert (Bob) experimented on rats by giving them random difficulties to get food, hard or easy. In the end, he gave all of the rats a difficult task. He concluded that rats that were previously tasked with hard stuff at the start had more endurance during the end task compared to the ones who got it easy before.

Bob did the same thing to kids (but with money instead of food), and the results were the same.

The author has a rule called the Hard Thing Rule, where everybody in the family has to do at least one hard thing they choose themselves that needs regular deliberate practice, and stick with it. You can quit, but you can only quit at certain checkpoints. Like for example, taekwondo would be after you get a new belt.

Her daughter kept switching “hard things”, and finally landed on violin, where she kept going at it for years.

When they get to high school, there is a fourth requirement, that they have to commit to a “hard thing” for at least 2 years.

In the end, the author recommends the “hard thing rule” for parents who wants to encourage grit in their kids without disabling the kid’s freedom of choice.

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