Dr. Angela Duckworth Speaks to the GMAHS Community about Grit


Abigail Szypula, Writer

On Wednesday, March 3, Angela Duckworth, author of Grit and founder of Character Lab, visited Gwynedd Mercy Academy. Dr. Duckworth has the most viewed TED Talk ever, concepts of which she discussed more in-depth during her presentation to the Gwynedd community. During the presentation, Dr. Duckworth discussed GRIT in relation to her own life, various studies she has conducted, and ways that the audience could build GRIR in their lives. 

During her presentation, Dr. Duckworth discussed studies done with children in a national spelling bee, as well as students attending the United States Military Academy West Point. In the spelling bee study, Dr. Duckworth explained that those who trained with deliberate practice- the idea of focusing on a subskill, giving 100% effort, and taking constructive feedback- reflected a higher Grit score, and found more success. When discussing her observations at West Point, Dr. Duckworth emphasized that grit scores were able to predict who would stay at West Point- not academic or physical ability.  

 Dr. Duckworth mentioned that as a little girl, her parents would constantly discuss the success and intelligence of her cousins, which she felt she could not measure up to, when she was not even the smartest person in her class. This sparked her journey of building grit, which helped her to attend Harvard, and later Oxford. Dr. Duckworth explained to the audience how they too could begin to build their own grit, since “grit isn’t fixed.” She gave four options: develop interests, practice like an expert, cultivate purpose beyond self, or develop a growth mindset. With these practices, she noted that grit can be cultivated and accelerated. 

After her presentation, Dr. Duckworth spent time answering questions from the audience. During this, she mentioned that finding a long-term interest in which grit can be cultivated is not instantaneous and must allow for trial and error to “develop your passions.” Dr. Duckworth also mentioned that the “grittiest” people she knows have recently been feeling burnout. She emphasized to the audience that after two years of a pandemic, and with very heavy current events this is a very valid feeling. She encouraged the audience to take a break, which she knows is especially hard for gritty people.  

Dr. Duckworth finished her discussion with an emphasis on keeping cultures, like the Gwynedd culture, close in the building of grit. The evening was finished with refreshments in which the audience could ask Angela further questions, and one week later, on March 30, Gwynedd students watched a recorded version of the talk during their community period. After Dr. Duckworth’s inspirational presentation, the Gwynedd community is sure to become at least a little bit gritter.