Spring 2015–Celebrating 107 Years of Serving Youth
PBC seeks to transform the lives of vulnerable young people through integrated experiential and adventure-based programming in schools and at our outdoor campus.
TRUE GRIT! Grit, persistence, determination and resilience – these terms are sometimes used interchangeably as shortcuts to describe one of the five core competencies of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) – self management: being able to stay in control and persevere through challenges. Dr. Angela Duckworth, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania coined the term "grit." Her studies indicate that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ. The question that is still being studied is how students learn to be “gritty.” Some researchers say that in order for students to learn grit you must create a learning culture with opportunities for struggle and healthy risk taking. According to Verena Roberts, Chief Innovation Officer of CANeLearn, “One of the best ways to learn about grit is to focus on outdoor education and go out into the wild. Grit is about not freaking out, taking a deep breath and moving on.’’ With the Princeton-Blairstown Center’s (PBC) Blairstown Campus and School-Based programs, young people have opportunities to take healthy risks and to “struggle” with the answers to complex questions while working cooperatively with and learning to trust others. When our School-Based students travel to Blairstown and climb high up a tree on metal spikes to a small platform on our ropes course, their biggest takeaway is that it’s okay to feel anxious about potential failure in new situations, yet if they stick with it and take the risk to try to meet the challenge, they can overcome their fears and achieve great things. Site Coordinator Jessica Keels, LMSW, talks about the transference of these lessons
back to Trenton Central High West, where students reference how a lesson learned at Blairstown can apply in school. A student who struggled to overcome his fear of climbing high up a tree, walking across a log or rappelling down a dam makes the link that he can overcome his challenges in algebra by “sticking with it, asking peers and his teacher for help and encouragement, and believing that he can master it.” Educators call this approach to learning a “growth mindset,” or the notion that success comes from effort and that students should not turn away from tasks that seem unapproachable. A growth mindset can be particularly powerful to vulnerable students from low income backgrounds who are labeled by teachers, parents or themselves as “failures.” In them, however, PBC staff reinforces the belief that with effort and encouragement students can accomplish their goals and improve their abilities. The work PBC’s staff does in schools and at our Blairstown Campus provides students with hands-on challenges to work together and struggle through, thereby increasing grit and the confidence that comes from trying, persevering and successfully problem solving. All of our work around grit and SEL is made possible by your continued support. Please be as generous as possible and help us to advance the work started 107 years ago – transforming the lives of vulnerable youth. Mark L. Antin, Esq. President, Board of Trustees
Pam Gregory Executive Director