How to think about “Grit”

January 18, 2017 by  
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For the past several years, non-cognitive skills have been a dominant theme in education. While the concept has been around for some time, the current focus can be traced back to the book How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough. That book popularized the notion that a student’s long-term success was determined by a whole range of “skills” – grit, perseverance, conscientiousness, curiosity, self-regulation – that go above and beyond a test score.

Since the book was published, “grit” has been the star of the show. The book summarizes the work of psychologist Angela Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania, who found that an individual’s “grittiness” – their ability to remain committed to a particular task over a long period of time – is more important to long-term success than a range of other academic factors.

So grit is important. What has been less clear, however, is how to make students grittier.

Tough’s latest book, Helping Children Succeed, takes up this question. And what he finds is that we’re likely going about it all wrong.

The problem with non-cognitive skills – grit or any other – is that we think of them as “skills,” rather than the collection of habits and traits that researchers have all lumped together under the non-cognitive umbrella. And because they’re not skills, students are unlikely to develop them the way they might other skills, through practice. Yet this is the dominant way we work on non-cognitive capacities in schools: by telling students to persevere, get that homework done, be gritty!

Instead, researchers find that the way to get students to act grittier is by changing a student’s context, rather than trying to change the student herself. More specifically, researchers have found that to get students to persevere through challenging academic tasks, we must impact the underlying mindsets that lie behind a students’ actions. In other words, rather than trying to develop non-cognitive capacities directly, we should be trying to impact how students think and feel about themselves, their school, their academic abilities, and their futures.

So how do we do this?

There are two sets of research worth mentioning here.

The first comes from the renowned experiments of psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Since the 1970s, Deci and Ryan have conducted a number of experiments to show that intrinsic motivation is a far more powerful motivator than extrinsic motivation, and that a student’s intrinsic/internal motivation depended on their sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This means that students need to feel that they have some sense of agency and choice, feel they can succeed in their work, and feel connected to the people they are working with, namely their teachers and fellow students.

The second piece of research comes from a highly recommended report on non-cognitive skills by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago Schools Research. After analyzing literature on a range of “noncognitive factors,” they found that the surest way to develop the academic habits essential for school success is by impacting four underlying academic mindsets:

  1. I belong in this academic community (belonging/relatedness)
  2. My ability and competence grow with effort (growth mindset)
  3. I can succeed at this (competence)
  4. This work has value for me (relevance)

This all matters a great deal because armed with this knowledge, everything we do in schools to help students build key non-cognitive capacities needs to change. Knowing that we want to develop a “skill” like grit in our students, the tendency of educators has traditionally been to enact stricter discipline policies, buckle-down, exert more control, in the name of building “character” skills.

But the research on academic mindsets seems to suggest that this is the exact wrong approach. A “No Excuses” discipline policy that’s overly controlling could detract from a student’s sense of autonomy, and place students and staff in an adversarial position that may harm a student’s sense of belonging. Missing a sense of autonomy and relatedness, a student may reject school and fall behind academically, damaging their sense of competence. If this leads to acting out and a refusal to engage, the negative cycle continues.

Instead, Tough suggests that the right approach may not be about any particular program or even a focus on a certain set of discrete “skills.” The right approach may be to simply create educational environments that offer students some sense of autonomy; that allow teachers to show students that they’re valued, liked, and that they belong; that are supportive of student success; and that offer students the chance to engage in interesting work that could stir potential passions.

So as we seek to build non-cognitive capacities in our students, the focus should be not on changing our students, but on changing the academic environment our students experience on a daily basis. The sooner we do that, the sooner we may discover that we’ve been surrounded by “gritty” students all-along.


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Time to get real about automation and the future of work

January 17, 2017 by  
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My colleagues and I have written extensively about the mounting evidence that a bachelor’s degree is an essential educational credential for job security in the 21st century workforce, but whenever we do I brace for caustic feedback from skeptics in the comments section.

Our critics often point to the economic stability they enjoy because they were trained for a high-paying skilled trade jobs as evidence that we’re dead wrong about the value of a college education. But here’s the thing: The work landscape they knew yesterday -and know today -is rapidly changing, and only those who are brave and smart enough to face that reality are going to thrive in the future. Futurists and economists have offered ample proof that broad skills like the ability to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically are what employers are hiring for. These are skills that are sharpened by a college education.

I don’t look down upon skilled trades or manufacturing work. Quite the opposite. In fact, I wouldn’t be a member of the middle class without it. My great-grandfather came to Detroit from Kentucky in 1912 and became one of the earliest African American skilled trades workers at Ford Motor Company’s famed Rouge Complex. Later, my grandfather and uncle had long careers as skilled tradesmen at the Rouge – jobs that enabled them to raise their families comfortably.

But at its height, the Rouge Complex employed more than 100,000 workers. Today, it employs about 6,000 people because much of the work of modern auto assembly is done by robots. Because of automation, General Motors’ assembly plants in metro Lansing now employ fewer than 6,000 hourly workers, down from the 23,000 who built cars in the region as recently as 1979. If these facts are not enough to jolt those who pine for a return to the auto industry’s heyday as an employer into reality, I don’t know what is.

Need more proof? My colleague Lou Glazer recently wrote a blog describing how automation is depleting job opportunities in fields like mining and fast food. “The Long-Term Jobs Killer is Not China. It’s Automation,” a recent New York Times column by Claire Cain Miller, is required reading for those who really want the straight skinny about how automation will continue to shift employment. In this blog, I have quoted extensively – some might say ad nauseam – from Andrew McAfee’s and Erik Brynjolfsson’s book The Second Machine Age and its dire predictions about automation’s potential to radically remake the entire world’s employment landscape.

Still, the fervent hope that politicians can and will magically turn back the clock to expand jobs in the American manufacturing sector persists.

I recognize that there is more than one path to prosperity. But every seasoned gambler understands the wisdom of playing the odds. If workers want to boost their odds for success in a rapidly-evolving workforce (where automation is on track to make entire categories of work obsolete), they will need to develop skills that allow them to move seamlessly from job to job. Workers who only know how to do one thing are going to be left behind.

It’s true that skilled trades jobs were once Michigan workers’ gold standard for economic stability. But automation and globalization aren’t going anywhere. Even those with jobs in the manufacturing sector are going to have to be nimble in order to be relevant in an era of quickly-evolving work. Anyone who resists this reality is simply whistling past the graveyard.

The post Time to get real about automation and the future of work appeared first on Michigan Future Inc..

Tyrone Wheatley accepts Jaguars’ running backs coach job

January 16, 2017 by  
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Another Michigan coach goes elsewhere

The University of Michigan is in need of another coach for its football team.

It was announced Monday that running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley is set to take on the same role for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL.

The former Michigan running back becomes the second coach to leave Michigan’s staff after Jedd Fisch left to be the offensive coordinator at UCLA back in December.

As pointed out by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Wheatley has worked with new Jacksonvile Jaguars’ Head Coach Doug Marrone in the past. He worked with him at Syracuse from 2010-12 and then again with the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14.

Wheatley had been the running backs coach for the Wolverines since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2015. Now Harbaugh will have to find yet another replacement on his coaching staff.

Chuck Filliaga Talks His Recruiting Process and Decision To Attend Michigan

January 16, 2017 by  
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We caught up with Michigan’s recent offensive tackle commit.

Last Saturday, several recruits announced their college decision live during the U.S. All-American game. One of them was four-star OL, Chuck Filiaga, who had Michigan in his final group of three schools. He posted his announcement later that day on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6, 335-pound lineman was an important recruit for Jim Harbaugh to land after Isaiah Wilson selected Georgia. The Texas native is ranked No. 98 according to 247Sports and the 14th ranked player in the state.

Maize n Brew caught up with the latest 2017 Michigan commit a week after his announcement to find out more about his recruiting process and decision to attend Michigan.

1. When did your offer come from Michigan?

“My offer from Michigan came I think middle of junior year.”

2. What impressed you the most about Ann Arbor and the campus?

“What impressed me was the stadium. But aside from that was the academics mostly what interested me was the business school. But as a whole was the brother hood that was built there I felt very comfortable there.”

3. How would you describe Coach Harbaugh?

“Coach Harbaugh is a great guy. He's in it for the team, he would do anything for his guys. He's a hard worker and he has a great coaching staff working with him too.”

4. Which coach(s)helped the most in getting a feel for the program and school?

“This ones going to have to be all of the coaches they're all involved even for the ones that don't play their position.”

5. How would you describe your first time in The Big House?

“There's a reason they call it the Big House. Gameday experience was amazing, so many people in one place. But very beautiful campus.”

6. What was the overall reason you picked Michigan and when did you know that was the right choice?

“The overall reason was the academics I mean I can get great football, anywhere but the academics was most important to me. But what also helped it the most was the players.”

7. What other school(s) were you highly considering and what made you decide on Michigan?

“It was Oklahoma and I knew Michigan was a fit on my official visit. It was a long talk between me and the parents evaluating the schools when it came down to my final 3.”

8. What has been your overall biggest accomplishment in high school?

“My overall high school accomplishment would have to be winning state.”

9. What does being a college student-athlete mean to you?

“Being a college student-athlete is the same as high school, but with a higher level of education. It requires more focus and sacrifices, so that you can do what you want to accomplish.”

10. What do you look forward to when it comes to college and playing football at Michigan?

“I look forward to soaking everything in. Enjoy my time.”

With his size and strength, he could very well be part of the group in this class that see’s a lot of early playing time next year.

Michigan Swept at Minnesota

January 15, 2017 by  
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The Wolverines are downed easily at Mariucci

Minnesota 5 - Michigan 2

Minnesota 4 - Michigan 2

Coming into the weekend the Wolverines needed to do everything right if they were going to get a win at Mariucci. They never came close to a win, in fact, the Gophers took care of business like you would expect a first place team to do against a team near the bottom of the conference standings.

Friday and Saturday night at Mariucci gave us the same old stuff we’ve seen all year; goaltending was great, defensive zone play was shoddy and their offensive possessions were so short that Minnesota coasted in both games once they took the lead. During the second period of the Saturday game, the Wolverines got three shots on goal. Three! You can’t win games playing like that.

Michigan is now 1-5-0 in conference play and 8-11-1 on the year. In their 5 conference losses the Wolverines haven’t looked competitive and are being outscored 28-14 in Big Ten play.

The fast-paced transition style of play that Red Berenson has coached at Michigan for the last three decades doesn’t work with this team. They have a group of bigger forwards who would be more suited to grinding and they should be playing like that, but if the coaching staff hasn’t changed their philosophy after 20 games there’s no hope at all that a change will come now.

Report: Tyrone Wheatley set to accept job with Jacksonville Jaguars

January 15, 2017 by  
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The Wolverines may have to replace their running backs coach.

Michigan may need to fire back up a hiring cycle.

According to a report from The Sporting News’ Alex Marvez, running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley is set to accept a job on Doug Marrone’s staff with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL.

Sam Webb of The Michigan Insider says that while no final decision has been made, Wheatley is contemplating the move.

This comes days after the reports emerged that Wheatley was interested in the head coaching vacancy at Western Michigan, who elected to hire Tim Lester to the position.

Wheatley has been the running backs coach under Jim Harbaugh in his two seasons in Ann Arbor and has ties to the NFL and Marrone, having worked under him with the Buffalo Bills and at Syracuse.

Wheatley of course is also a former star running back with the University of Michigan, playing in Ann Arbor from 1991-94.

This story is developing.

Michigan ends losing streak, defeats Nebraska 91-85

January 14, 2017 by  
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Mortiz Wagner, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton have big days for the Wolverines

The Michigan men’s basketball team returned home to Ann Arbor to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers after experiencing a two-game skid which saw the Wolverines lose to Maryland and Illinois. Michigan was able to end the losing streak as it defeated Nebraska, 91-85.

Michigan was in a consent battle throughout the game against Nebraska. The Wolverines were able to beat the pesky Cornhuskers due to their “Big Three” (Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton and Mortiz Wagner) having big time games.

Wagner started out hot shooting wise for Michigan, as he scored 14 of his career high 23 points in the first half. He kicked off his career day with a three and also took out some frustration on the rim against Nebraska.

While Wagner cooled off after the first-half, which saw Michigan lead Nebraska 40-36 at halftime, Irvin and Walton picked up the slack. Especially late in the game.

It seemed like the Wolverines were about to let the game slip through their fingers, just like they did against the Virginia Tech Hokies. However, Walton scored 11 points in three and half minutes for Michigan after Nebraska pulled within four of the Wolverines’ lead.

In the last minute of the game, Irvin hit 6-of-6 free throws while Walton sunk 4-of-4 freebies. Irvin finished with 21 points and Walton finished wit 20. The trio scored 70.3 percent of Michigan’s points.

Against Illinois and Maryland, Michigan’s perimeter defense was poor. But against Nebraska, it was on point. Especially in the first half. The Wolverines held the Cornhuskers to only three attempts beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.

Although, Michigan’s perimeter defense let up in the second-half against Big Red, the Wolverines’ ability to get to the free throw line and not foul helped them secure their second conference win of the season. Michigan went 26 of 30 from the free throw line while Nebraska was a mere 4 of 5.

The Wolverines defense was once again, not great. But at some point, their opponents will stop shooting blistering percentages from 3-point land. Until then, Michigan will have to whether the storm of non-existent defense and try to win with its high-octane offense. Which the Wolverines were able to do against the Cornhuskers.

According to KenPom, this was Michigan’s most likely win among its remaining games of the season. After the Cornhuskers, the Wolverines will face its likely to win against opponent, the Wisconsin Badgers, when they visit Madison on Tuesday night.

Fire Tom Anastos. Immediately.

January 13, 2017 by  
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UPDATE (1/15): After this past weekend, MSU has now lost 9 in a row, is 4-15-1, and outscored 43-18 over that period. 

Rarely does the ES post about the Spartan ice hockey team, but now is the time.  Sorry, this is an ugly post, but my Green & White pride demands it.


This evening, at the $20 million restored Munn Ice Arena, MSU got whipped again, 5-2, against mighty Penn State.  Sorry, coach, the restoration was NOT a "game changer" with you in charge. MSU is now 4-13-1 overall, has not won in its last 7 games, being outscored 33-13 in that period of time. Can we reach our 10-23-4 record from a year ago?  The ES doubts it.

My, my how the mighty have fallen.  Let's share some comments from the master to prove the point.

The ES with Ron Mason, Dec 2015
In mid-Dec. 2015, the ES went to Reno's and it just so happened to be the Tom Anastos show.  The ES bellied up to the back bar instead of listening to Anastos' drivel...  guess who popped into the seat next to him?  The late, great Ron Mason - greatest collegiate hockey coach of all-time. Here's where the conversation went:

ES: "Howdy, coach! Welcome back to town! We miss you."
RM: "Thanks so much. It's good to be back, although it's a little cold."
ES: "No shit. Aren't you down in Florida these days?  What're ya doing?"
RM: "Yeah, I'm off West Palm Beach.  I've got a fishing boat and go deep-sea fishing every day."
ES: "What do you catch?"
RM: "Maybe some swordfish, [some other fish I can't remember].  I couldn't do it when I was working, but I do it every day now."
ES: "Awesome. Take advantage of retirement. What do you think of our hockey team these days?"
RM: "It's sad and unfortunate.  To see that program I helped build up to be one of the best year-in-year out, and now that legacy is ruined. I'm glad to be fishing."
ES: "I couldn't agree more.  I miss your teams. You been to Munn since they redid it?"
RM: "It's great.  Too bad we don't have a hockey team good enough to deserve it.  We don't even fill the place any more."
ES: "I know. When you were coaching, I had to scalp tickets to get in.  Maybe we should just talk about fishing?"

etc, etc.

Uhhhhh, yeah.  Ron Mason is turning in his grave right now seeing how this hockey team is stinking it up.  I have had several conversations with a few other Spartan hockey alumni who believe the same thing.

*ES at the MSU/Minny game
on the glass, Dec. 9
Let's just consider the home games this season:

Oct. 21. Denver. L, 1-2. Attendance: 5,419
Oct. 22. Denver. L, 1-3. Attendance: 3,003
Oct. 28. Princeton, W, 6-2. Attendance: 3,079
Nov. 4. Michigan Tech. W, 3-2 OT. Attendance: 3,339
Nov. 5. Michigan Tech. L, 1-5. Attendance: 4,038
Nov. 10. Ferris State. L, 1-4. Attendance: 3,169
* Dec. 9. Minnesota. L, 2-4. Attendance: 5,869
Dec. 10. Minnesota. L, 2-4. Attendance: 5,420
Dec. 18. Northeastern. L, 2-6. Attendance: 3,536
TOTAL: 2-7. Score: 19-32. Average Attendance: 4,097

Of 6,450 capacity at Munn, the Spartan hockey team is averaging 63.5%... or, with an average ticket price of $15 (between $10 and $22), that's a loss of an average of $35,295 per game.  Under Mason, the Big Green Hockey Machine was sold out for 323 games in a row (from 1985 to 2004).

And, in the Pairwise rankings, Michigan State is ranked #50 out of 60, behind #49 Arizona State, #48 Colgate, #47 Sacred Heart, #45 Mercyhurst, #44 Bentley, and our mighty #35 U.S. Military Academy (Army).  Thank the Lord we are ranked ahead of #55 Alabama-Huntsville (for now).

Don't wait until the end of the season, Mr. Hollis.  This team is getting worse, not better.  Unfortunately, the Anastos hire did not work out - he should have stuck to pushing papers.  Why wait?  This marriage is over.

So, who would be interim coach?  Get a player to coach the team; or,  Kevin Miller, since he's in town.  Or, anyone named Miller.  Good God.

Sharpen that axe and let it fall.  It's time to start OVER.  Immediately. It's embarrassing.

Fan Poll: What’s the biggest reason you’re a fan?

January 13, 2017 by  
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Where did it all begin for you?

I would like to take this opportunity and quickly introduce myself. I joined the team as a Staff Writer early this month and the news about the opportunity was a fantastic way to start 2017. I look forward to the future fan interactions and if you have a comment or suggestion, please share them.

Here's my quick story in two sentences. I’m a Michigan native and spent many fall Saturdays at The Big House, then attended Xavier University on a golf scholarship where I also met my beautiful wife. We live in the bluegrass state where I've successfully converted some of my in-laws to be maize and blue fans. The end.

From time-to-time, we will be doing poll questions to interact with the fan base. So here it goes:

Question: What's the biggest reason you're a Michigan fan?

Everyone has a reason and story behind why they’re are a fan. My reason, similar to many who voted, is very simple and it's because of how I was raised. My grandfather became a season ticket holder in 1969 after his father had tickets in the early 1950’s. He started taking me in the early 1990’s and we parked every game day in the same backyard off Berkley Avenue.

I attended many games through that decade and spending fall Saturday’s in The Big House is where some of my favorite memories were made growing up as a kid in Michigan. My father was a Norte Dame grad and fan, but never pushed hard for me to become an Irish fan, because he knew it would never happen. My passion grew over time and continued after leaving for school in yes, Ohio, where I was the minority as a Michigan fan among my college buddies. Anytime I get back to the mitten for a game or to see family, the worst part is having to drive through Ohio.

Poll Results

Thank you to all reading this who voted on the Twitter poll and I enjoyed reading all the great responses. While this may be a harder question for some to answer, here are the final results.

Below are a few of my favorites.

Like my wife and many others, she became a fan by marriage. We've gone to a few games and I remember taking her by Michigan Stadium when we started dating to make a stop in the M Den for some gear before the 2005 Rose Bowl game.

Others turn fans the minute they enter this world. The new parents buy the gear, watch the games together, attend games, teach the traditions and sing the marching band songs.

For others, it’s because of a relationship in their life or other influential reasons they decide to cheer for the maize and blue, like we saw in the responses to my poll.

The several living generations that cheer for Michigan started out one day a fan, somehow, someway. Anytime I meet people who support the team, it’s always interesting to hear how they became a Michigan fan and the story behind the decision to join one of the best fanbases in all of sports.

Michigan – Minnesota Preview

January 13, 2017 by  
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The Wolverines head to Minnesota to face the Gophers

Michigan resumes conference play after an underwhelming showing at the GLI where they were shutout by Michigan Tech and barely hung on to beat a bad Michigan State team.

Minnesota is a good team. The Gophers always seem to ice a team that has a lineup balanced by an upperclassmen core complemented with talented underclassmen and this season is no different.

The core of Justin Kloos, Vinni Lettieri, Mike Szmatula and Leon Bristedt have paced a team that boasts the 5th highest goals per game average in the country (3.72) and the 5th best best power play (24.3%). Sophomore Tyler Sheehy is second in Big Ten scoring with a 12-13—25 line and Grand Rapids, Michigan, native Brent Gates Jr. has added nine goals.

Defensively the Gophers have been up and down this season in part due to blueline struggles as well as goalie miscues but they went into the break on a high note allowing six goals through their last four games.

It’s been a streaky year in net for Eric Schierhorn. He did not start the year well at all but he finished the first half strong and looks to round back into form after a much needed break.

Jake Bischoff is most capable offensve threat on the Gopher blueline posting a 2-14—16 line and has anchored the top pairing this season with Ryan Lindgren. Freshman Ryan Zuhlsdorf is the only other defenseman with more than one goal, however, Zuhlsdorf and Lindgren have been battling the flu and I’m not sure what their availability will be for this series.

For Michigan

If you’re still holding out hope that this team can turn it around then that makes this series a must-win. They’re in the last place that they wanted to be in at this point in the year: 1-3-0 in conference and playing at the venue that Michigan has had the least amount of success in since joining the Big Ten.

The Wolverines do not play well at Mariucci and it’s because of the wider ice surface. That extra ice is a trap for forwards who think they can blaze down the wing but these Minnesota defensemen know how to use the boards as an extra defender and sandwich them as they try to drive wide.

The Michigan defensemen have had equal struggles against this attack. The Gophers know how to use the space and they’re really good at using wide rushes to get the defensemen stretched out and open the middle of ice.

To make matters worse for the Wolverines, Michigan will be without Will Lockwood for this series.

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