After several more years of teaching, I came to the conclusion that what we need in education
is a much better understanding of students and learning from a motivational perspective, from a psychological perspective.
In education, the one thing we know how to measure best is I.Q.,
but what if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?
So I left the classroom, and I went to graduate school to become a psychologist.
I started studying kids and adults in all kinds of super challenging settings,
and in every study my question was, who is successful here and why?
My research team and I went to West Point Military Academy.
We tried to predict which cadets would stay in military training and which would drop out.
We went to the National Spelling Bee and tried to predict which children would advance farthest in competition.
We studied rookie teachers working in really tough neighborhoods,
asking which teachers are still going to be here in teaching by the end of the school year,
and of those, who will be the most effective at improving learning outcomes for their students?
We partnered with private companies, asking, which of these salespeople is going to keep their jobs?
And who's going to earn the most money?
In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success.
And it wasn't social intelligence. It wasn't good looks, physical health, and it wasn't I.Q. It was grit.