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Grit - from a mathematician's perspective

Lance, a Maths student at Nottingham Trent University describes his recent experiences of Grit's workshops:

"As a mathematician, I deal with the logic of the absolute. There are always right and wrong answers – or so I thought. Indeed, even before embarking on the Grit training courses I had been exposed to far more abstract and theoretical concepts in areas of my university course. Additionally, interpretation would become a key feature of my mathematical study.

Having been invited to attend the first single day training session by the student’s union as a result of my being course rep, I accepted mostly from a place of curiosity; a desire to be involved in everything; and some free food! What I did not expect to find were the connections and experiences of the other students present at the training. For some, a marked change in attitude, feeling and behaviour – all for the better as they saw it – was evident; even after only a couple of hours.

For me, I found myself opened to the reality of how students from all walks of life in spite of experiencing vastly differently had come to the same set of negative places. Indeed, having been in some of these places myself, it was joyous to watch them overcome their fears, inhibitions, sadness, lack of confidence and self-consciousness.

So when the chance came to undertake a second day training session, this time run directly by my school, I jumped at the opportunity. This time, I found myself better engaged in the general process as I knew in advance the structure it would take. However, I was not prepared to be quite so surprised as how differently everything unfolded throughout the day thanks to the change in the makeup of those present.

What struck me mostly was how the students who primarily studied the so-called hard sciences: physics, chemistry, bioscience etc. really struggled to grasp the abstract nature of the concepts presented. This led to very different discussions between us and a wholly separate learning path of progression. Once again, everyone agreed they benefitted from being present.

I found myself already committed to the three day programme even before it had been announced. It was, as I hoped it would be, a personal and revealing experience. Once again the students who committed to the programme took centre stage and moulded the experience for all present.

When asked questions such as ‘What is Grit's training? How was it? What did you learn?’ I find it very hard to answer. On one level, I have seen real beneficial change in my peers who attended which can only be considered positive. On another, I can see how helpful this style of programme is to develop a questioning mind and explore and experience the abstract – critical aspects of the sciences that time and time again are regarded as being the most challenging for students in those areas of study.

Ultimately, all I can say is that no one leaves the training without having made some kind of connection; whether that’s with other individuals or with themselves. Old, young, thriving, struggling, rich, poor, international, domestic; Grit is a chance to know yourself in a way that few ever can. What you take from it is only determined by yourself – but at the end it may well surprise you. For some, it changes their lives. In my mind it can only be considered a wholly beneficial experience; one I hope I get the chance to repeat and continue to be involved in.

It is what it is… and that is not half bad."