Would you like to radically change your understanding of how children succeed? We invite you to watch this provocative TED Talk video by teacher and child development expert Angela Duckworth. In it she makes a persuasive case for why IQ is not quite the predictor of success that so many of us think it is, and why perseverance or “grit” is.
Grit is a skill that we talk a lot about at our summer camp in NH. It’s also a skill identified by the P21 organization as one of the core 21st Century Skills that today’s children lack, and need to succeed in the future.
Think about your own experiences and the people you have encountered in school and in your professional life. Which person have you wanted on your team: the person who was naturally gifted and not all that motivated, or the person with above average aptitude and an insatiable desire to surpass goals?
The academic and business leaders of our society have come to realize that over time we have taught our young people to devalue grit. Our schools more often than not reward the students who can quickly recite the facts and figures, as opposed to those who are able to wrestle with the larger concepts. More and more we teach to the test, and not how to critically solve problems. A net effect of this is that we are raising generations who either give up when sufficiently challenged, or who avoid things outside of their comfort zone all together.
But the world is readily changing, and with it the skills needed to succeed are, too. There was a time that you could make yourself indispensable by being able to recall vast amounts of trivial information. Now just about everything can be looked up on Google using a smartphone. Going forward the true difference makers will be those members of the work force who will be able to process complex ideas in order to solve problems, and those who have the ability to communicate effectively and collaborate in groups.
This is where overnight summer camps enter the equation. By their very design, summer camps are incredible laboratories for developing 21st Century / Non-Cognitive Skills. While they are outside playing and having fun summer campers learn to negotiate with their peers and authority figures; test out how to assess risks and live independently; are required to shift their expectations and be more flexible in their thinking; and practice a whole host of sports, arts, swimming, friendship-making skills that can only be mastered through repeated practice. It’s in the summer camp environment that children are able to acquire the characteristic of grit that they will so desperately need to succeed in the future.
At Camps Kenwood & Evergreen in NH, we focus on developing these 21st Century/Non-Cognitive Skills every single day of the summer. Over the course our 7-week experience our campers become more proficient in all of the following soft skills: