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  1. Behind the scenes
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    07 Sep '17 17:192 edits
    I just finished a wonderful book (audio version) . It's called Grit by Angela Duckworth. This lady made a very strong and detailed case that high achievers in many fields are a product of persistence and passion for their endeavors, and not necessarily due to educational or physical gifts. This may sound obvious, but too often people lose sight of this. Highly Recommended!

    https://angeladuckworth.com/grit-book/

    Note to Duchess - Angela Duckworth is of Asian descent, so let it be known that this horrible racist, sexist white male is occasionally open minded in this area! 🙂
  2. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    07 Sep '17 18:43
    Originally posted by @mchill
    I just finished a wonderful book (audio version) . It's called Grit by Angela Duckworth. This lady made a very strong and detailed case that high achievers in many fields are a product of persistence and passion for their endeavors, and not necessarily due to educational or physical gifts. This may sound obvious, but too often people lose sight of this. High ...[text shortened]... known that this horrible racist, sexist white male is occasionally open minded in this area! 🙂
    I already was aware of _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth, and I am much less impressed than Mchill by it.
    It's a very superficial (or misleading) tautological pop psychology book. How much
    should the author be praised for knowing her naïve American target audience so well?

    Here's a critical review by David Denby in the 'New Yorker':
    http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-limits-of-grit

    "The Limits of “Grit""
    --David Denby (21 June 2016) (which is more than one year ago)

    "Other social scientists, looking at the West Point situation and many others that Duckworth considers,
    might have called grit an “independent variable”—one possible factor in a given experimental
    situation affecting many other factors. But Duckworth decided that grit is the single trait
    in our complex and wavering nature which accounts for success"

    "I’m not sure what we’re learning from any of this. There may be a few champions who
    get by purely on talent, luck, or family wealth, but we can assume—can’t we?—that most
    highly successful people are resilient and persevering. It would be news if they weren’t.
    Grit can be partly inferred from their success itself, which is, of course, what drew Duckworth
    to these people in the first place. There are no mediocre or moderately successful people
    in her book, and she has little interest in the myriad ways we hamper ourselves—failure,
    in this account, is simply owing to a lack of grit.

    Tautology haunts the shape of these fervent lessons. “Grittier spellers practiced more
    than less gritty spellers,” Duckworth assures us. Well, yes. She is looking for winners,
    and winners of a certain sort: survivors in highly competitive activities in which a single
    physical, mental, or technical skill can be cultivated through relentless practice."

    "Even so, “Grit” is a pop-psych smash. More than eight million people saw Duckworth’s TED talk
    before the book came out. Duckworth is in demand in many places as a motivational speaker."

    Angela Duckworth's successful at marketing.

    "Duckworth’s work, however, has been playing very well with a second audience: a variety
    of education reformers who have seized on “grit” as a quality that can be located and
    developed in children, especially in poor children. Some public schools are now altering
    their curricula to teach grit and other gritty character traits. In California, a few schools
    are actually grading kids on grit."

    It's absurd to grade children according to a teacher's perception of their 'grit'.
    One reason is that such perceptions are very culturally dependent, and such grades
    introduce strong factors of cultural bias (which means de facto racial or ethnic bias).

    "Despite some success at individual schools, there has been little over-all improvement in the scores
    of poor children. The gap between white and minority children has actually increased in recent years."

    Many poor East Asian immigrant children (even from non-English-speaking families)
    perform better than affluent white children, but their achievements tend to be regarded as
    extremely 'politically embarrassing', so they are ignored or dismissed by the US media.
    Cultural differences do influence educational outcomes.

    "If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness
    to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools."

    It's easier for affluent (mostly white) Americans to blame the supposed lack of grit in poor
    (mostly non-white) children than to pay more taxes to support 'failing' public schools.

    "In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort.
    Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself.
    The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it
    should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating
    grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"

    "Reading Paul Tough’s new book, “Helping Children Succeed” (a sequel to the acclaimed
    “How Children Succeed,” from 2012), should give pause to the more extravagant hopes.
    Tough, a journalist who studies poverty and child development, begins with the inevitable
    bad news: prosperous children who are read to, talked to, and educated in many ways
    by their caregivers come to school way ahead of poor children, especially children who
    grow up amid noise, violence, and unending stress and uncertainty. Kids from harsh
    environments can be badly hurt before they leave infancy. This is a matter of correlation,
    not causation. Poverty in itself doesn’t create troubled children; the quality of parenting
    and household atmosphere is what matters."

    "According to neuroscientists and pediatricians, grit may be out of reach for some kids
    all through childhood, and perhaps beyond."

    "In this light, Duckworth’s work regarding poor children becomes irrelevant or even unwittingly abrasive.
    In effect, the children are being held responsible for their environment; low character
    scores become an accusation against poor kids that they cannot possibly answer."

    Let's not be too deterministic here. It's possible, even if it's unlikely, for a child from a
    poor, even an abusive, family to succeed in school. I grew up in an extremely harsh
    environment (with domestic violence), provoking me, as a child, to consider suicide.
    And I was a member of a historically persecuted minority that encountered extreme bigotry.
    Contrary to the stereotypes of the school authorities and educational 'experts', I surpassed
    academically students who had--by far--every possible advantage in support over me.
    My story may be exceptional, but it's not unique.

    My point is that children are diverse, complex, and often more resilient than adults assume.
    When I was a young child, school 'experts' told my parents that, as I obviously lacked intelligence
    (I had grown up not knowing the school's language of instruction), the best that I could hope
    for as a career would be doing something mechanical (like a factory worker) where I could
    follow simple instructions and did not have to use my brain much. My father encouraged
    me to develop secretarial skills early because he reckoned that it could be a good career.
    My life experience shows how much some 'experts' can be blinded by their prejudices
    and how wrong they can be, though they typically prefer not to admit their errors.
  3. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    07 Sep '17 19:223 edits
    Continuing with David Denby's insightful criticism of Angela Duckworth's book _Grit_.

    http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-limits-of-grit

    "Duckworth was working with children herself when she changed her mind about what
    made them succeed. Born in 1970 to Chinese immigrants, she earned degrees at
    Harvard and Oxford and worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company
    before admirably deciding, at the age of twenty-seven, to teach seventh-grade math in
    New York public schools. As she recounts in “Grit,” she realized that her most hard-working
    students outpaced the ones who seemed naturally gifted at math."

    Is effort ('grit' ) more important than 'natural gifts' in succeeding at mathematics?
    It depends upon the level. It's not 'one size fits all'.

    American schools typically have a low level of standards and expectation in mathematics.
    (Comparative studies have found that many other societies have higher standards.)
    So, with enough effort, any student of average (or somewhat below) intelligence should be able to pass.
    But, for cultural reasons, many Americans are too ready to make excuses for the poor performances
    of their children (e.g. "You're just a girl, so, of course, we don't expect you to be good in math." )
    Some other cultures have higher expectations of their children.

    At a higher level, 'natural gifts' matter more. I knew more than a few students (older and
    from more supportive families) who spent much more time than I did upon mathematics.
    They were good (equivalent of American 'straight A' students) by ordinary standards, but
    they were not even close (they knew it and readily acknowledged it) to what I could do.
    A student of average talent could attempt to study 24 hours per day--in an ordinary school way--and
    not become a top solver of hard problems because such success requires more than oceans
    of rote memorization. It requires some insight and flexibility in thinking (which seems harder to teach).

    I once was introduced to a Chinese girl, who (I was told later) had idolized me from afar.
    She was supposed to be one of the best mathematics students of her age in Hong Kong.
    I assessed her as having moderate talent. I told her that I thought that she could become
    one of the top 100 high school students (of all, not just girls) in mathematics in the USA.
    And she fulfilled my prediction when she entered an American public high school.

    "She [Duckworth] quit teaching and, at the age of thirty-two, entered the Ph.D. program
    in psychology at Penn. She became a disciple of Martin Seligman, who had developed
    the concept of “learned optimism,” the notion that we can talk ourselves into better
    performance by retraining our pessimism—seeing individual defeats as temporary, local,
    and reversible, not as proof of an inborn incapacity. Depression, in this account, is not
    implacable and organic; it’s a negative way of looking at one’s life."

    This kind of (somewhat naïve) optimism appeals particularly to most Americans.

    "Now, there’s something very odd about this list [of children's approved character traits].
    There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others.
    The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors
    by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth
    would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school,
    getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is
    suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers.
    Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and
    Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy.
    Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty."

    Isn't the US educational system supposed to 'produce corporate drones in a capitalist economy'?

    "Grading students according to the character list has become integral to education at the
    KIPP chain, which has now grown to more than a hundred and eighty schools ...
    there may be gifted children who simply don’t respond to this kind of conditioning,
    children whose potential can’t be expressed through such narrow notions of character
    and success. They are likely to get spun out of the KIPP system."

    "Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide
    what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these
    attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down,
    as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well.
    Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal
    functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

    "Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted
    as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being.
    She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness."

    "Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the
    Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book.
    “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class
    achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”"

    "Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges
    that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can
    stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support."

    Personal success cannot exist completely independently of economic realities.

    "After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill.
    Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a
    pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness."

    It's a 'pop way' that impresses her ignorant naïve target audience (like Mchill).

    "Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its
    human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little"

    I generally concur with David Denby's criticisms of Angela Duckworth's book and work.
    Like him, I regard her apparent narrow emphasis on 'grit' as a 'theory of everything' as potentially harmful.
    I am certain that no child of mine should ever attend a school that grades its students
    according to the narrow criteria that Angela Duckworth apparently celebrates.
    I hope that her book will not further another misguided trend in American education.
  4. Behind the scenes
    Joined
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    07 Sep '17 19:27
    Originally posted by @duchess64
    I already was aware of _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth, and I am much less impressed than Mchill by it.
    It's a very superficial (or misleading) tautological pop psychology book. How much
    should the author be praised for knowing her naïve American target audience so well?

    Here's a critical review by David Denby in the 'New Yorker':
    http://www.newyorker. ...[text shortened]... r prejudices
    and how wrong they can be, though they typically prefer not to admit their errors.
    My life experience shows how much some 'experts' can be blinded by their prejudices
    and how wrong they can be, though they typically prefer not to admit their errors.


    I believe this was one of the points Angela Duckworth was also trying to make in her book, that 'experts' too often judge people (especially children) without knowing their true potential.
  5. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    07 Sep '17 19:372 edits
    Originally posted by @mchill
    I just finished a wonderful book (audio version) . It's called Grit by Angela Duckworth. This lady made a very strong and detailed case that high achievers in many fields are a product of persistence and passion for their endeavors, and not necessarily due to educational or physical gifts. This may sound obvious, but too often people lose sight of this. High ...[text shortened]... known that this horrible racist, sexist white male is occasionally open minded in this area! 🙂
    "Angela Duckworth is of Asian descent, so let it be known that this horrible racist, sexist
    white male is occasionally open minded in this area."
    --Mchill

    In the USA, some women of Asian heritage have achieved success and status by, in
    addition to their own achievements, marrying powerful, influential, or wealthy white men.
    Elaine Chao (an heiress in her own right) has been appointed by two Republican Presidents
    (including Donald Trump) to their Cabinets largely because she's married to the powerful
    Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

    Connie Chung (who's married to a white man) was a popular American television anchorwoman.
    She became notorious (disliked) among many Asian Americans because she sought to
    ingratiate herself with her white bosses and friends by going along with their overt anti-Asian racism.

    Indeed, marrying a white man is an important, if not an essential step, for an Asian woman
    (even if born in the USA) to become accepted as a 'real American' by more white Americans.
    Asian women who marry white men tend to have higher social status than Asian women who marry Asian men.
    And Asian women can benefit to some extent from their white husbands' racial privilege.
    So middle-to-upper class Asian women tend to prefer to marry white men over Asian men.
    Even if the Asian men have higher achievements, they cannot bring white privilege to Asian women.

    It's wrong (though white people may advise it) to tell an Asian American girl who's troubled
    by racism: "Don't worry about racism. When you grow up, you can attract a white man
    who will marry you and attempt to protect you from racism as long as he's married to you."
  6. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    07 Sep '17 19:412 edits
    Originally posted by @mchill
    My life experience shows how much some 'experts' can be blinded by their prejudices
    and how wrong they can be, though they typically prefer not to admit their errors.

    I believe this was one of the points Angela Duckworth was also trying to make in her book,
    that 'experts' too often judge people (especially children) without knowing their true potential.
    David Denby has written a long critical review of _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth.
    David Denby strongly disagrees with Mchill's apparent fawning admiration of the book.
  7. Behind the scenes
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    07 Sep '17 19:541 edit
    Originally posted by @duchess64
    David Denby has written a long critical review of _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth.
    David Denby strongly disagrees with Mchill's apparent fawning admiration of the book.
    I respect David Denby's right to his opinion, however it may be premature for anyone to render an opinion on a book that he (or she) has never read. Experts, as you correctly pointed out are occasionally wrong.
  8. Zugzwang
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    07 Sep '17 19:571 edit
    Originally posted by @mchill
    I respect David Denby's right to his opinion, however it may be premature for anyone to render
    an opinion on a book that he (or she) has never read. Experts, as you so eloquently pointed out are occasionally wrong.
    Why does Mchill apparently imply that David Denby never has read _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth?
    How could David Denby quote from that book if he never has read it?
  9. Behind the scenes
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    07 Sep '17 20:001 edit
    Originally posted by @duchess64
    Why does Mchill apparently imply that David Denby never has read _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth?
    How could David Denby quote from that book if he never has read it?
    I think you miss my point here Duchess. I was referring to a book that YOU have never read. Unless I missed it your text.
  10. Zugzwang
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    07 Sep '17 20:08
    Originally posted by @mchill
    I think you miss my point here Duchess. I was referring to a book that YOU have never read. Unless I missed it your text.
    Mchill wrongly concludes that I never have read _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth.
  11. Behind the scenes
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    07 Sep '17 20:441 edit
    Originally posted by @duchess64
    Mchill wrongly concludes that I never have read _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth.
    mchill has only concluded that you never specifically stated in your posts you have read this book.

    This aside, I know from both my personal and business experience that many points of this book are true. I'm sorry if you disagree, but I found Grit to be an informative and inspirational book, and I would still recommend it.

    Well done Duchess, despite disagreements, we seem to have had our very first (non abrasive) discussion. Progress? 🙂
  12. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    07 Sep '17 21:30
    Originally posted by @mchill
    mchill has only concluded that you never specifically stated in your posts you have read this book.

    This aside, I know from both my personal and business experience that many points of this book are true. I'm sorry if you disagree, but I found Grit to be an informative and inspirational book, and I would still recommend it.

    Well done Duchess, despite disagreements, we seem to have had our very first (non abrasive) discussion. Progress? 🙂
    "Mchill has only concluded that you never specifically stated in your posts you have read this book."
    --Mchill

    Mchill shows his usual abysmal power of 'reasoning' to jump to the conclusion that I never read the book.
  13. Zugzwang
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    08 Sep '17 02:43
    Originally posted by @mchill
    mchill has only concluded that you never specifically stated in your posts you have read this book.

    This aside, I know from both my personal and business experience that many points of this book are true. I'm sorry if you disagree, but I found Grit to be an informative and inspirational book, and I would still recommend it.

    Well done Duchess, despite disagreements, we seem to have had our very first (non abrasive) discussion. Progress? 🙂
    " I know from both my personal and business experience.."
    --Mchill

    "Now, there’s something very odd about this list [of children's approved character traits].
    There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others.
    The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors
    by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth
    would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school,
    getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is
    suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers.
    Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and
    Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy.
    Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty."
    --David Denby

    "Perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy"--no wonder
    the American businessman Mchill admires what Angela Duckworth's pushing.
  14. Standard membershavixmir
    Guppy poo
    Sewers of Holland
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    08 Sep '17 04:21
    Originally posted by @duchess64
    I already was aware of _Grit_ by Angela Duckworth, and I am much less impressed than Mchill by it.
    It's a very superficial (or misleading) tautological pop psychology book. How much
    should the author be praised for knowing her naïve American target audience so well?

    Here's a critical review by David Denby in the 'New Yorker':
    http://www.newyorker. ...[text shortened]... r prejudices
    and how wrong they can be, though they typically prefer not to admit their errors.
    Damn. I hope you never review my book (should I ever get one published)!

    That's viciously brilliant.
  15. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    08 Sep '17 17:28
    Originally posted by @mchill
    I just finished a wonderful book (audio version) . It's called Grit by Angela Duckworth. This lady made a very strong and detailed case that high achievers in many fields are a product of persistence and passion for their endeavors, and not necessarily due to educational or physical gifts. This may sound obvious, but too often people lose sight of this. High ...[text shortened]... known that this horrible racist, sexist white male is occasionally open minded in this area! 🙂
    "Note to Duchess - Angela Duckworth is of Asian descent, so let it be known that this
    horrible racist, sexist white male is occasionally open minded in this area."
    --Mchill

    If Mchill expected me to praise Angela Duckworth just for because she's an Asian American woman,
    he should take note that I approve of David Denby's (a white man) criticism of her book.
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