Angela Duckworth was curious to know the psychological make up of winners for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC. She sent questionnaires to 273 spellers of the competition. Two thirds responded.
They completed the Grit Scale and answered some questions about how much time they devoted to spelling practice. There was a lot of variation but the average practice time was 1 hour per day on weekdays and 2 hours per day on weekends. (Some hardly practiced at all and others practiced as much as 9 hours every Saturday.) Angela also conducted verbal IQ tests to a sample of the spellers. These results ranged from average IQ for their age to verbal prodigy.
The winner of the spelling bee was thirteen year old Anurag Kashyap. He spelled APPOGGIATURA. Angela took the rankings of the competition and analyzed her data. "...grittier kids went further in the competition. How did they do it? By studying many more hours and, also, by competing in more spelling bees....there was no relationship at all between verbal IQ and grit. What's more, verbally talented spellers did not study more than less able spellers, nor did they have a longer track record of competition....Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another." (Duckworth, 2016, p. 14)
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