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The Art of Persistence

While many believe that motivation and persistence are linked, there is a clear and concise difference between them. Motivation in the realm of education is simply the desire to accomplish a given task or goal whereas persistence is the resolve. You can certainly desire to accomplish a given task be it a math problem or improving your free throw percentage but if you don’t have the resolve, meaning you are not willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, desire will not have mattered at all.

The art of persistence is an interesting paradigm within the educational sphere and is a critical building block that is laid at an early age by our parents. Persistence has a direct link with time and can have a direct implication to success if there is a lack of it, especially on the home front. Persistence is a learned trait that if mastered early can prove to be a hallmark in our educational life. It can also affect other aspects of our lives including marriage, family and career. Oftentimes when we are struggling with a given task, it will take time to learn why we are struggling and what we can do to attain ultimate success. Here is where our resolve and the given time that we have to succeed at our task become important and where ultimate success may be measured. Also success may be determined by if we are persistent enough to complete the task. Then it stands to reason that to become successful at a certain level, the art of persistence will play a major role in our success.

So where do we learn to be persistent and moreover, give ourselves a better chance at being successful? In all domains and especially education, persistence is the trait we witness through our parents. From birth, we closely observe our parents. Throughout all of these experiences starting in our formative years, we watch to see how our parents deal with many of life’s experiences. Many of these trials can be harsh and deliver setbacks. How our parents react and resolve these setbacks will become the fabric of how we may react and work through negativities. If we see our parents buckle down and do whatever it takes to survive an issue or tragedy, that modeling is likely to have a positive impact on us when it is our time to have to fight through an issue. If parents give up or become distracted with a given struggle, there may be a good chance that when children have a struggle, they may throw in the towel as well.

If parents encourage and model the art of persistence regularly, a child’s ability to master a given goal may certainly increase. If parents work with educators through a given issue whether it social studies homework or mastering the fingering of a violin — this loving resolve will help children succeed. Parenting practices where persistence is evident may allow for our children to not only work with great resolve but also to become more successful at whatever they set their hands to. Parent support from an early age is critical along with clear modeling practices. These attributes of persistence parents translate to their kids may create a work of art that is the hallmark of their family for generations to come.


Dr.  McMahan is Editor-in-Chief of Family Literacy Journal. With a doctorate in educational leadership, and focus on curriculum and instruction, he is a career educator, principal and superintendent.  His consultancy, The McMahan Group, helps administrators and teachers maximize student success.  McMahan owns and stewards the 150 year old McMahan and Sons, one of Ohio’s oldest and most respected family owned farm businesses. As a 3 term township trustee in Trumbull, Ohio, McMahan is committed to the empowerment and integration of  family, community, and education. McMahan is also an accomplished musician and poet.

4 Responses to “The Art of Persistence”
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  3. Calvin Coolidge said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

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