...[M]ythologizing natural talent lets us off the hook. It lets us relax into the status quo. That's what undoubtedly occurred in my early days of teaching when I mistakenly equated talent and achievement, and by doing so, removed effort - both my students' and my own - from further consideration.
This, from the third chapter of Angela Duckworth's book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is how many people (teachers) think. I have seen people equate naturally successful students with successful teaching. The kid comes into the classroom, racks up some high test scores on day one, and the teacher gets the credit. Actually, the kid who doesn't naturally score high, but succeeds after hard work might be more of an educational achievement.
...[W]hen you consider individuals in identical circumstances, what each achieves depends on just two things, talent and effort. Talent - how fast we improve in skill - absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill. At the very same time, effort makes skill productive.
Duckworth likes to tell stories in this tome. She tells of soldiers, swimmers, entrepreneurs, and actors. Later in this chapter, she draws upon rapper/actor Will Smith. I was particularly impressed by this quote from Mr. Smith:
The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there's two things: You're getting off first, or I'm going to die. It's really that simple.
I'll leave you with one last thought from the chapter. I especially liked the clarity of these thoughts concerning the vocabulary.
I would add that skill is not the same thing as achievement, either. Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn't. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.