Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Does Teaching Programming Teach Grit?

gritGrit seems to be the latest educational buzz word these days. According to psychologist Angela Duckworth “grit is a better indicator of GPA and graduation rates. [then IQ]” What is grit? It seems loosely defined to me but perseverance is a big part of it. As is resilience. The big question for educators seems to be can we teach it? If it is so important than teaching it becomes a goal to think about. And the question of can we teach it and how to teach it seems to be about as open as defining what it is.

It seems though that students learning computer programming, at least those who are successful at it, are learning some grit in the process. After all if you are the type to gives up when faced with problems than you are not going to be successful at programming. Various barriers from syntax errors to logic errors to things just not being the same as one is used to thinking are going to stare one in the face. Overcoming them is a key part of learning to program. It doesn’t matter if programming is on a par with brain surgery or something anyone can learn it still takes a certain amount of grit to succeed.

I know we have to help students and keep them from getting too frustrated but to some degree we have to let them work though things on their own. They learn the most from solving their own problems. And if along the way they learn some perseverance and resilience or even grit that’s a good thing.

What do you think? Does learning to program teach grit? And if so does it do it better than some other subjects we already force kids to take?

A couple of posts on grit by Vicki Davis may be worth a read BTW.


Garth said...

After reading some of the research it is hard to decide if programming teaches grit, or if those with grit do well in programming. I suspect it is the latter. I think by the time a kid hits a programming class their "grit factor" is probably already determined.

Alfred C Thompson II said...

Garth it does seem like a "chicken or egg" sort of question at times. It may also depend on when students (in age) are exposed to it. Younger students, it often seems, are willing to put up with things longer than older students. So perhaps if we expose students to software development earlier they will not lose the grit they are born with.

Jake said...

I think this really depends on how the process is laid out. Surely students will not learn grit if they are faced with a problem they cannot overcome without serious help. I however do believe students can learn grit, resilience, and overcoming failure through learning to program. For some it is natural, but for others it is up to the teacher to help them just enough so they do not get stuck. If you are to gradually remove yourself from the process then they are improving their response to obstacles they encounter. Just my two cents...