The problem, I think, is not only the schools but also the students themselves. Here’s why: learning is hard. True, learning is fun, exhilarating and gratifying – but it is also often daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging. . . . To help chronically low-performing but intelligent students, educators and parents must first recognize that character is at least as important as intellect. (Angela Duckworth, cited in Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character)

Last week, Angela Duckworth, a research psychologist, was named one of the recipients of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grants, for her work advancing our understanding of how self-control and ‘grit’ – the relentless work ethic of sustaining your commitments toward a long-term goal – impact success.

World history is filled with examples of extraordinary “geniuses” whose accomplishments are attributable not simply to their IQs and their “God given talent,” but rather to their extraordinary perseverance.  But Duckworth is the first to empirically prove that grit and determination are better predictors of success in life than IQ. Duckworth developed the Grit Scale – a simple test which evaluates how much twelve statements apply to you. The results, Duckworth found, are surprisingly predictive of success in a range of areas, from the National Spelling Bee to the West Point military academy. [To take the test, go to]

Duckworth’s research calls to mind the statement of Rav Yitzchak:
ואמר ר’ יצחק אם יאמר לך אדם יגעתי ולא מצאתי אל תאמן לא יגעתי ומצאתי אל תאמן יגעתי ומצאתי תאמן הני מילי בדברי תורה אבל במשא ומתן סייעתא הוא מן שמיא
R. Yitzchak also said: If a man says to you, ‘I have labored and not found,’ do not believe him. If he says, […]