Success isn’t easy, and though it sounds cheesy,
Clear paths to great heights are quite rare.
Just flip through this book – go ahead, take a look!
Even champions started somewhere.
Opening line from The Wonders of Never Giving Up
The ability to keep going, even in the face of adversity, is such an important characteristic. Grit, determination, persistence, never giving up – whatever you call it, it is often the determining factor for success, more so than aptitude and natural ability (Duckworth, 2016).
This ability to persevere through trials is vital to be able to thrive in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. The last several years have highlighted just how important it is to be able to adapt, be flexible and just ‘keep going’. Perseverance allows us to learn from set backs, adjust our thinking or behaviour and strive for improvement.
I recently bought a new children’s book, The Wonders of Never Giving Up by Maddy Mara. This clever piece of literature encourages young readers to persevere in the face of trials and provides examples of real life people who did just that. From Bethany Hamilton (the amazing professional surfer who recovered from a horrific shark attack) to Katalin Karikó (an mRNA researcher who developed the COVID vaccine) to Stevie Wonder (one of the greatest musicians of all time), the book is filled with short and inspiring biographies of people who persevered.
Although we may understand the importance of perseverance and find examples uplifting, how do we develop ‘grittiness’ in ourselves and in our students?
One of the most crucial ways to develop perseverance is to increase one’s sense of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is generally defined as the belief an individual has about their ability to succeed. Self-efficacy can be boosted by providing opportunities for mastery of a skill or activity as well as plenty of verbal encouragement and scaffolding (Margolis and McCabe, 2006). Interestingly enough, self-efficacy rarely develops in isolation. Having another person to provide targeted, timely feedback is another way to develop self-efficacy.
It is also important to allow people the opportunity to fail often and fail fast. This requires a level of challenge that pushes them beyond their comfort zone. Obviously failure without support or scaffolding can be demoralising, however when tasks are cleverly designed to allow the individual to experience small setbacks and adversity, grittiness grows.
At The King’s School Tudor House, we strive to provide opportunities for our students to persevere. In classrooms from P-K to Year 6, students are engaged in learning tasks specifically designed to challenge their thinking and evoke a sense of curiosity. Similarly, students are afforded the opportunity to explore and engage with the 169 acres of space during break times and of course through our unique outdoor education program, Kahiba. In all of these experiences, students are given the opportunity to extend themselves, push their limits and often fail. But because this happens in the context of a Christian Community, students feel safe to try new things, take risks and build perseverance.
Earlier this year over thirty students chose to take part in the Tudor 12 Hour, an enduro mountain bike event around the grounds of Tudor House. Students rode in teams from 7am to 7pm, collectively riding over 1200km and raising thousands of dollars to improve our on-site mountain bike track. In the weeks preceding the event, the Southern Highlands had received a large amount of rain so the grounds were wet, slippery and muddy. Add to that the freezing cold weather and a biting wind and you have a highly challenging environment. Yet each of the students participating in the Tudor 12 Hour endured the freezing conditions, spurred on by those around them. They showed exceptional grit, sometimes pushing their bikes through paddocks filled with thick black mud, wiping a mixture of rain and sweat off their faces, always with a look of steely determination to finish the race well.
As these young people grow up to participate in a VUCA world our hope is that they are able to face challenges with the same perseverance they demonstrate every day at Tudor.
Mr Richard Deck
Director of Students and Community