As teachers, we talk a lot about developing grit, and teaching kids to fail, building stamina and rigor. Each of those qualities is important and each of them deserves more than 300 words of deep contemplation and conversation. Yet there is a hidden complexity for teachers that is related to all of those topics. Quitting.
The truth is sometimes the smart thing to do is quit, and being able to figure out the when and how of quitting becomes more difficult as we get older.
I am not talking about giving up, but rather stopping an action that is unsuccessful and trying something else.
I am thinking of the second grader doing math on her fingers because she knows it works but is flummoxed by the need for more fingers. It is endearing but, she needs to quit that to move on.
I am thinking of the fifth or sixth grader with friends he doesn’t really like and are not good for him, but, It’s not cool to dump a friend you have had for (enter almost any time frame here.)
I am thinking of the college kid taking classes to become an accountant even though she thinks its “super boring and just chose it to answer the what do you want to be?” question.
If you are over the age of 5 you can think of something you should have quit long before you did; a job, a relationship, or a bad idea you chased too long. If you are like me, you can think of something you should be quitting now.
On the Social-emotional flowchart, quitting is the action right between recognizing a mistake and learning from it.
Quitting can be a brave act. It can be as empowering and healthy a choice as rigor or grit.