In his Tuesday New York Times column, David Brooks spins out some ideas about our grade-point-average-obsessed culture based on his reading of Angela Duckworth's "Grit," and for once it's difficult to complain about the conclusions he's jumping to.
"Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject," he wrote. "Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions."
Of course, because this is still Brooks, he does couch success in economic terms: "The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring."
And yet, his reading of "Grit" is persuasive. As he noted, for Duckworth,
Gritty people are resilient and hard working, sure. But they also, she writes, know in a very, very deep way what it is they want.
This is a crucial leap. It leads to a very different set of questions and approaches. How do we help students decide what they want? How do we improve the quality and ardor of their longing?