This paper seeks to apply longitudinal discourse analysis to the AngloAmerican conversation about grit. Examining the history of grit reveals more than the simple fact that this character trait has had a long life. The “usefulness” noted in this paper’s title refers to the way in which language and rhetoric are employed to “legitimize relations of organized power” (Habermas, 1967, in Wodak and Meyer, 2009, p. 10). In other words, the grit discourse allows privileged socioeconomic groups to preserve their position under the guise of creative pedagogy. This phenomenon does not require malevolence on the part of its enactors. In fact, it can coexist with perfectly benign intentions.
While I think his claim that a historical analysis of the use of the term “grit” discounts arguments the term has racist implications is flawed, his analysis is excellent and important in this discussion.