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There’s nothing like a really tough challenge to make us learn the real value of the end product. The ability to develop one’s GRIT is, according to Angela Lee Duckworth, a fundamental skill that can make the difference between, “I tried” and “I succeeded”.
“GRIT is having the courage to push through, no matter what the obstacles are, because it’s worth it.” Chris Morris
This very potent concept came across strongly from the experiences of the three women who attended the BETT 2016 conference/exhibition in London this January. After getting some fresh, and sometimes difficult to swallow, perspective on the differences between the UK and the South African economy. These three ladies seem to have a fresh approach to the possibilities that technology can offer our education system moving forward.
The educators in South Africa have so much learning to do, in terms of the way new technologies can affect our children, their learning, and their futures. They highlighted the importance of learning, not only for the students, but also for the staff and parents alike. The idea of upskilling our teacher becomes more crucial by the second. The possibilities are ever expanding and it has been predicted that in 2020, if a person does not know how to code, they will have a hard time finding a job.
This thought is astounding. Especially if we look at our current economic and political climate in South Africa. To think that our country will be run by our current school children, with a basic requirement like coding, makes one start to realise the magnitude of what the future has in store for them.
We do, however, have to be realistic for a moment and address the fact that South Africa has harsh inequalities. As South Africa is rated one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, according to the Gini coefficient it is placed fourth in the world as one of the worst ratios of disjointed income levels within any particular country. This offers us one of those challenges, mandatory for one’s GRIT and, eventually, one’s growth to be realised. It is the proverbial pit that we often find ourselves in as a country.
With the ideas presented at the think ahead exhibition, I feel there may be hope for us after all. Perhaps this is just what we need to get through this pit we find ourselves in, in business, education, politics or even personally. It is time and again that we find that the most successful people in business are the ones who can tell us that they had to struggle, and had to work through obstacles to end up with that success status. Those successful people have developed their GRIT in life which will serve them well into the future.
It is these people who can overcome anything they set their minds to, despite the fact that they do not have raw talent for a particular aspect. They understand that they have to Persist Until Something Happens. To PUSH beyond these ideas of incompetence and negativity to finally reach that end goal.
In an analysis by Ben Schiller on the possibilities that 2020 has in store for the world in terms of technology, he highlighted one highly relevant point that serves as a beacon of hope for the African continent. It was said, in terms of reverse innovations, that “in the past, innovative products flowed from rich countries to poor countries. By 2020, the pipeline may start flipping, says Timothy Kotin, founder of education start-up E-coach Solutions. He believes that as Africa embraces technology to solve health and education challenges, it may start exporting its models elsewhere”.  
Of course GRIT was not the only element discussed. However, for me, this theme had one of the strongest resonances, because it is a mind-set of growth that we need to foster in our daily lives, our habits and most importantly in our culture. That will be the real predictor of what lies in store for the future.
Some other themes that were touched upon, by them were the ones of changing the physical learning spaces to adopt a new non-linear manner of thinking, as well as having fun with technology in learning, the importance of the rapidity of assessments, fostering an across-the-board range of knowledge and deeper learning, and scaffolding these concepts to produce a better learning environment.  
One the final thoughts given on how to ensure a successful integration of technology in the learning space, is to decide what you want to teach, then find the relative technology to improve on this process. A concept if feel we can incorporate in all aspects of life.
I look to this quote regarding GRIT, from Chrissanne Long, in the view that we can move towards a brighter, technologically driven future, and climb out of our pits. Whether they be physical, emotional, technological, business or personally based. Our Grit can pull us through.
“Grit is pushing beyond the platitudes, and finding authentic connections that will encourage you to embrace discomfort and embark on a journey that always seeks to push you outside the box.