Sunday, March 23, 2014

News from Institute of Grittology

Here at the Institute of Grittology, we're committed to helping monetize the work of our research partners, The Research Institute for the Study of Obvious Conclusions ("Working hard to recycle conventional wisdom as proprietary programing").

Our speakers bureau has determined that statements such as "treating children with support and kindness helps them do better in life" do not enhance the revenue stream. However, folks will fork over good money to hear "it is our collective responsibility to strive at all levels of our educational communities to provide environments for students that are calm, supportive, encouraging, thoughtful, and planned, which provide opportunities for students to ignite their latent capabilities to be resilient." 

In addition to repackaging such insights as "people who don't quit tend to finish more stuff," we have found that Grittology also provides good cover for traditional management insights such as, "If people think you're abusive, they just need to suck it up and grow a pair." If people find a situation difficult, challenging, upsetting or oppressive, they should understand that it is because they lack sufficient grit. Moving forward, locating and identifying grittacious individuals will become increasingly important for employers who don't want to feel pressure to make their work environment more human-friendly.

Of course, in today's educational marketplace, to really sell grit we're going to need to collect some data in order to quantify the objectively measurable aspects of grit. We hope to be part of the great cradle-to-grave data trail because this will allow prospective employers to better assess the continued employable of individual human resource units vis-a-vis more efficacious application of task performance potential productivity growth ROI workplace retention growth. Also, we expect to make a shitload of money.

We have developed some testing tools for assessing an individual's Grit Or Resiliency Proficiency. The GORP score can be generated for school students. Here are some ample items.

For small children

Have the child sit in a small room and with a cute puppy. Once the child has had the opportunity to bond, enter the room, take the puppy, and tell the child, "This is your fault. You don't deserve nice things." and storm out. Observe child's reaction.

Below basic: Cries like some sort of baby.
Basic: Sniffles and sulks
Proficient: Calls parents to buy a new puppy
Advanced: Builds a puppy with materials in examination room

For older children

Tell the subject that his/her parents have been killed in a terrible car crash and the student will now have to go live in an orphanage

Below basic: Cries like some sort of baby
Basic: Curls up quietly in fetal position
Proficient: Runs away
Advanced: Plans to use estate to attend nice private school

For teens

Put teen in room with person they would find attractive who flirts with student for short period before abruptly announcing that the student "is too gross for anybody to ever love."

Below basic: Cries like some sort of baby
Basic: Whines and asks "Why don't you like me?"
Proficient: Says "Well, I know you are, but what am I"
Advanced: Offers to have parents buy attractive person a car

Human resources departments in school districts have also expressed an interest in using GORP scores as part of the hiring process. Intense research has demonstrated that people who tend to stick with their commitments tend to stick with their commitments, and as school working conditions become worse and worse, identifying employees who can put up with those conditions for a full teaching year is becoming cost-effective. We suggest GORP scoring be part of the hiring process. Here are some sample items for pre-employment GORP testing.

Sample GORP test item 1:
Lock applicant in room without food for forty-eight hours

Below basic: Dies
Basic: Becomes gravely ill
Proficient: Remains healthy but thin
Advanced: Calls his lawyer and arranges release

Sample GORP test item 2:
Punch applicant in the face

Below basic: Falls down
Basic: Falls down but gets up slowly
Proficient: Punches examiner back
Advanced: Calls lawyer and has district sued

Important note for school districts

Studies of grit suggest that grit is often associated with independent thought and inability to follow orders blindly. Too much grit in your teaching staff and before you know it you have test boycotts and union activity and teachers asking annoying questions in staff meetings. District human resource departments should ideally hire candidates whose GORP scores are only basic or proficient, as teachers with advanced GORP scores might not be willing to just quietly sit and take it.

Remember-- having grit is valuable and important, but not as important as being compliant and within all standard acceptable ranges of behavior. We need people in the workplace who can take abuse, but not people who will actually fight back.


  1. Priceless! Now I want to be aan education curmudgeon, too!

    1. No sweat. Let me just sign you up for my five-week summer seminar, and you too can be a Curmudgeon for America.

  2. thanks for writing this--so cutting and so funny--wonderful commentary

  3. HI Peter, Just to clarify, As a working educator I write about what I believe needs to occur in all of our classrooms across the nation. I have not yet monetized my work, and if someone were actually interested in hearing more they could follow my blog, and or seek me out for a conversation. I write and share as a way to further the conversation about what we need to do as a society for all students. I know that many seem to be jumping on this bandwagon, and if you watched my three minute video you would learn that my story is personal and not contrived. In any case, I appreciate your humor, just remember there are still many caring educators who want to bring about real reform in each classroom.