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Weekend Wanderings

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snail grit2.jpg I'm still thinking (a LOT) about last week's EconTalk episode with Angela Duckworth on "Grit." Specifically, "grit" seems one of those oh-so-common-sensical notions...But how, I still wonder, can I teach grit to my son? Or somehow ensure he possesses it otherwise? I found this New Yorker article on "resilience" from February interesting. How much do you think a child's context affects his ability to be "gritty" or "resilient?" And does it really only emerge when one is under stress? In the case of my son, I surely hope that's not true...I also wonder how the work of Garmezy and his students relates to Carol Dweck's work on mindsets, also mentioned in the Duckworth EconTalk episode. Any thoughts? (You can also check out my questions from last week in the Duckworth Extra.)

A lot of us at Econlib identify as libertarian. As such, this US election is particularly interesting to watch, with Libertarian Party candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld potentially grabbing a foothold. Here's Scott Sumner explaining why he identifies libertarian, along with an interesting piece on the evolution of the Libertarian Party by Liberty Fund Senior Fellow Pat Lynch at the Library of Law & Liberty. Of course, not everyone thinks libertarianism is such a good idea. Here's Michael Lind on EconTalk in 2013 arguing that libertarians are wrong about how best to organize society. (Note: Always a fine idea to re-read this.) Why do people identify along libertarian lines in the first place? Do we just pick and choose facts and stories that fit our preconceived narratives? That's what Jonathan Haidt suggests. Or maybe we just speak different languages, as Arnold Kling suggests.

As you no doubt have gathered, I'm a big fan of books. But what happens to books when they're translated? Is translation merely a question of marketing, with some books today being "born translated?" And why did it take soooo long for some to be translated in the past? (Speaking of Don Quixote, if you haven't checked out Francisco Marroquin's MOOC on Quixote, you're missing out.)


Here's hoping you're having a great weekend!



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COMMENTS (3 to date)
michael writes:

I think hard work and suffering are critical for developing strong character and "grit." These can come from stress, as you suggest, but also athletics, challenging hobbies, and manual labor. Each of these can be rewarding in its own right, made all the sweeter by the sweat of one's brow. I think it takes a wise parent to set appropriate goals just difficult enough. Alcoholism and bad family environment can achieve the same end, but not always. I think that New Yorker article falls prey to selection bias. Children from broken homes are more likely to end up in jail.

ChrisA writes:

Not mentioned whatsoever in the linked article is the null hypothesis that grit or resilience is simply an innate genetic characteristic and can't be learned or taught. I don't know if that is 100% true, but it surely ought to be the default assumption unless there is strong evidence otherwise.

In addition to grit, I would hope that a person could have ability to learn from mistakes. But notice: These two traits may conflict! If you try something and fail, should you try again (show grit) or should you learn from your mistake?

On one notable occasion in my life, after long effort I attained my dream job (employed by Booz Allen in Bethesda, consulting to the Department of Energy on energy research projects) — only to discover that I hated the job. I had been mistaken in my earlier and remote vantage about what the job entailed.

During a later 12-year span I sort of drifted. I made a few job changes guided more by my feeling of what activity I would enjoy than by my vision of a goal or position I wanted to reach. I wound up in a line of business (house building) that was, as I realized only after I got there, better for me than if I had attained my goal (a Computer Science Professor) at the start of that time.

So I would not be a good salesman for grit.

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