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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Forbes - 5 Characteristics Of Grit

 Margaret M. Perlis

5 Characteristics Of Grit -- How Many Do You Have?

Recently some close friends visited, both of whom have worked in education with adolescents for over 40 years. We were talking about students in general and when I asked what has changed with regards to the character of kids, in unison they said “grit” – or more specifically, lack thereof. There seems to be growing concern among teachers that kids these days are growing soft.

When I took a deeper dive, I found that what my friends have been observing in-the-field, researchers have been measuring in the lab. The role grit plays in success has become a topic du jour, spearheaded by Angela Duckworth, who was catapulted to the forefront of the field after delivering a TED talk which has since been viewed well over a million times. Additionally, in the last month, Duckworth received a $650,000 MacArthur fellowship, otherwise known as the “Genius Grant,” to continue her work. And, while Duckworth has made tremendous leaps in the field, she stands on the shoulders of giants including William James, K.E Ericson, and Aristotle, who believed tenacity was one of the most valued virtues.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” Duckworth, based on her studies, tweaked this definition to be “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” While I recognize that she is the expert, I questioned her modification…in particular the “long-term goals” part. Some of the grittiest people I’ve known lack the luxury to consider the big picture and instead must react to immediate needs. This doesn’t diminish the value of their fortitude, but rather underscores that grit perhaps is more about attitude than an end game.

But Duckworth’s research is conducted in the context of exceptional performance and success in the traditional sense, so requires it be measured by test scores, degrees, and medals over an extended period of time. Specifically, she explores this question, talent and intelligence/ IQ being equal: why do some individuals accomplish more than others? It is that distinction which allows her the liberty to evolve the definition, but underscores the importance of defining her context.
The characteristics of grit outlined below include Duckworth’s findings as well as some that defy measurement. Duckworth herself is the first to say that the essence of grit remains elusive. It has hundreds of correlates, with nuances and anomalies, and your level depends on the expression of their interaction at any given point. Sometimes it is stronger, sometimes weaker, but the constancy of your tenacity is based on the degree to which you can access, ignite, and control it. So here are a few of the more salient characteristics to see how you measure up.

While courage is hard to measure, it is directly proportional to your level of grit. More specifically, your ability to manage fear of failure is imperative and a predicator of success. The supremely gritty are not afraid to tank, but rather embrace it as part of a process. They understand that there are valuable lessons in defeat and that the vulnerability of perseverance is requisite for high achievement.

Teddy Roosevelt, a Grand Sire of Grit, spoke about the importance of overcoming fear and managing vulnerability in an address he made at the Sorbonne in 1907. He stated:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strived valiantly; who errs, who comes again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Fear of failure, or atychiphobia as the medical-set calls it, can be a debilitating disorder, and is characterized by an unhealthy aversion to risk (or a strong resistance to embracing vulnerability). Some symptoms include anxiety, mental blocks, and perfectionism and scientists ascribe it to genetics, brain chemistry, and life experiences. However, don’t be alarmed…the problem is not insurmountable. On Amazon, a “fear of failure” search yields 28,879 results. And while there are millions of different manifestations and degrees of the affliction, a baseline antidote starts with listening to the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “do something that scares you everyday.” As I noted in a recent post, courage is like a muscle; it has to be exercised daily. If you do, it will grow; ignored, it will atrophy. Courage helps fuel grit; the two are symbiotic, feeding into and off of each other…and you need to manage each and how they are functioning together.

As a side note, some educators believe that the current trend of coddling our youth, by removing competition in sports for example, is preventing some kids from actually learning how to fail and to embrace it as an inevitable part of life. In our effort to protect our kids from disappointment are we inadvertently harming them? Coddling and cultivating courage may indeed turn out to be irreconcilable bedfellows. As with everything, perhaps the answer lies in the balance…more to come.

Conscientiousness: Achievement Oriented vs. Dependable
As you probably know, it is generally agreed that there are five core character traits from which all human personalities stem called… get this…The Big Five. They are: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neurotic. Each exists on a continuum with its opposite on the other end, and our personality is the expression of the dynamic interaction of each and all at any given time. One minute you may feel more agreeable, the next more neurotic, but fortunately, day-to-day, they collectively remain fairly stable for most of us.

According to Duckworth, of the five personality traits, conscientiousness is the most closely associated with grit. However, it seems that there are two types, and how successful you will be depends on what type you are. Conscientiousness in this context means, careful and painstaking; meticulous. But in a 1992 study, the educator L.M. Hough found the definition to be far more nuanced when applied to tenacity. Hough’s study distinguished achievement from the dependability aspects of conscientiousness.

The achievement-oriented individual is one who works tirelessly, tries to do a good job, and completes the task at hand, whereas the dependable person is more notably self-controlled and conventional. Not surprisingly, Hough discovered that achievement orientated traits predicted job proficiency and educational success far better than dependability. So a self-controlled person who may never step out of line may fail to reach the same heights as their more mercurial friends. In other words, in the context of conscientious, grit, and success, it is important to commit to go for the gold rather than just show up for practice. Or, to put it less delicately, it’s better to be a racehorse than an ass.

Long-Term Goals and Endurance: Follow Through
As I wrote in the introduction, I had some reservations about accepting the difference between Webster’s definition of grit and Duckworth’s interpretation. Both have to do with perseverance, but the latter exists in the arena of extraordinary success and therefore requires a long-term time commitment. Well, since you are Forbes readers and destined for the pantheon of extraordinary success, it is important to concede that for you…long-term goals play an important role. Duckworth writes: “… achievement is the product of talent and effort, the latter a function of the intensity, direction, and duration of one’s exertions towards a long-term goal.”

Malcolm Gladwell agrees. In his 2007 best selling book Outliers, he examines the seminal conditions required for optimal success. We’re talking about the best of the best… Beatles, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. How did they build such impossibly powerful spheres of influence? Unfortunately, some of Gladwell’ s findings point to dumb luck. Still, the area where Gladwell and Duckworth intersect (and what we can actually control), is on the importance of goals and lots, and lots and lots of practice…10,000 hours to be precise.

Turns out the baseline time commitment required to become a contender, even if predisposed with seemingly prodigious talent, is at least 20 hours a week over 10 years. Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory and Duckworth’s findings align to the hour. However, one of the distinctions between someone who succeeds and someone who is just spending a lot of time doing something is this: practice must have purpose. That’s where long-term goals come in. They provide the context and framework in which to find the meaning and value of your long-term efforts, which helps cultivate drive, sustainability, passion, courage, stamina…grit.

Resilience: Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity
Of course, on your long haul to greatness you’re going to stumble, and you will need to get back up on the proverbial horse. But what is it that gives you the strength to get up, wipe the dust off, and remount? Futurist and author Andrew Zolli says it’s resilience. I’d have to agree with that one.
In Zolli’s book, Resilience, Why Things Bounce Back, he defines resilience as “the ability of people, communities, and systems to maintain their core purpose and integrity among unforeseen shocks and surprises.”

For Zolli, resilience is a dynamic combination of optimism, creativity, and confidence, which together empower one to reappraise situations and regulate emotion – a behavior many social scientists refer to as “hardiness” or “grit.” Zolli takes it even further and explains that “hardiness” is comprised of three tenants: “ (1) the belief one can find meaningful purpose in life, (2) the belief that one can influence one’s surroundings and the outcome of events, and (3) the belief that positive and negative experiences will lead to learning and growth.”

Wait, what? Seems that there is a lot going on here, but this is my take on the situation in an elemental equation. Optimism + Confidence + Creativity = Resilience = Hardiness =(+/- )Grit. So, while a key component of grit is resilience, resilience is the powering mechanism that draws your head up, moves you forward, and helps you persevere despite whatever obstacles you face along the way. In other words, gritty people believe, “everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.”

Excellence vs. Perfection
In general, gritty people don’t seek perfection, but instead strive for excellence. It may seem that these two have only subtle semantic distinctions; but in fact they are quite at odds. Perfection is excellence’s somewhat pernicious cousin. It is pedantic, binary, unforgiving and inflexible. Certainly there are times when “perfection” is necessary to establish standards, like in performance athletics such as diving and gymnastics. But in general, perfection is someone else’s perception of an ideal, and pursuing it is like chasing a hallucination. Anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and clinical depression are only a few of the conditions ascribed to “perfectionism.” To be clear, those are ominous barriers to success.

Excellence is an attitude, not an endgame. The word excellence is derived from the Greek word ArĂȘte which is bound with the notion of fulfillment of purpose or function and is closely associated with virtue. It is far more forgiving, allowing and embracing failure and vulnerability on the ongoing quest for improvement. It allows for disappointment, and prioritizes progress over perfection. Like excellence, grit is an attitude about, to paraphrase Tennyson…seeking, striving, finding, and never yielding.

Are there any others you’d add? By definition, passion is critical, but what role do you think it plays? I am sure that Duckworth will continue to explore and share the distinctions in the years to come, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This article is available online at:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jack Schneider in EdWeek today

Jack is a fellow Somerville dad and Ed School professor at Holly Cross.  I had lunch with him last week (at Amsterdam Falafel) and found him to tremendously insightful and constructive in his thinking about schools.  Below is a piece he had published in EdWeek today which I like very much.

How to Measure School Quality

By Jack Schneider & Anil Nathan

How do you measure school quality?

A seasoned educator can get a feel for a school in a day, though it might take a year to determine its particular strengths and weaknesses. Yet parents do not have that luxury; they cannot spend long stretches of time visiting all of the schools they might send their children to. And even if they did, many might not be sure what to look for.

Given this challenge, parents tend to rely on rougher indicators of quality—word-of-mouth and standardized-test scores. Parents weigh these two factors together and then make enrollment decisions with a relative sense of confidence. But these mechanisms are highly problematic and deserve careful scrutiny.

The most obvious issue is one of inaccuracy. A school can have a good reputation or impressive test scores because it caters to a privileged population. But, as research indicates, these high-scoring schools often add less value than some of their competitors with lesser reputations or lower scores.

"We believe it is possible to give parents richer and more useful information about schools."

A second problem is the effect that these indicators, particularly raw test scores, have on the system as a whole. Because standardized-test scores offer a narrow and opaque measure of performance—a measure most useful for myopically ranking schools against each other—reliance on them has ensured a small number of winners and a large number of losers. This, in turn, has damaged the reputations of countless schools and intensified the alarmist narrative of educational decline.

Finally, these methods of gauging quality are troubling because they have promoted segregation. Schools with strong scores and reputations become objects of intense competition and ultimately propel property values upward and price out the working class. Consequently, even if schools in lower-income neighborhoods are good, working-class children remain isolated from their more privileged peers, gain less access to social capital, and enjoy fewer of the resources that privileged parents bring to bear on their children's schools. And for their part, privileged students are denied engagement with those different from themselves.

Of course, merely demonstrating the inadequacies of these measures is not enough. Parents are desperate for information. And, insofar as that is the case, they will invariably opt for unreliable intelligence over none at all.

But what if we had better, more accurate measures?

"We urge scholars and policymakers to build additional tools to help parents make more informed decisions about the schools that best suit their children."

Recently, we collaborated with The Boston Globe in designing a school-rating tool that we believe will move the conversation beyond reputation or raw test scores. Pulling from the various data available to us, we include measures that reflect something about school quality. And recognizing the fact that rating schools is an inherently subjective enterprise, our model allows parents to customize rankings based on personal values, including school culture, college readiness, and diversity.

The tool is imperfect, certainly. After all, such measures are constrained by available data, which is not necessarily what we might wish for in an ideal situation. And every state approaches data collection differently, so our model is not perfectly replicable. In Massachusetts, for instance, the state generates a student growth percentile, or SGP—a measure that gauges growth by comparing one student's history of exam scores with those of all the other students in the state with a similar testing history. On the whole, however, our tool turns the tables on some conventional thinking about school quality in the state, and we believe it will change the way parents make decisions.

So what are our measures?

The first two are drawn directly from the state using SGP for English/language arts and mathematics. Such information, we recognize, is not currently available in all states. But many are moving toward a model that does a better job of leveling the playing field between groups with different background characteristics.

Our third and fourth categories are "school climate" and "college readiness." For the former, we use graduation and dropout rates, proxies for student and adult commitment to the process of education, as well as high school seniors' college plans. For the latter, we use SAT writing scores and the percentage of students scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement tests, two relatively strong predictors of college success. Such data are widely available and, therefore, this aspect of measurement is easy to reproduce.

Lastly, we include "school resources" and "diversity." While research is mixed about the exact impact of money, it is clear that greater resources can afford a wider range of opportunities for students. And while not all parents value diversity in schooling, it is a factor that many consider invaluable in the process of education. Our measure for school resources (expenditures per student) is straightforward. But in order to measure diversity, we have to be more creative. We imagine a level of "perfect diversity" for schools and then calculate the distance between a school's actual population and that ideal.

Again, our tool is a limited one. Graduation from high school and intent to pursue higher education are hardly ideal proxies for school climate. Our measure of college readiness relies, imperfectly, on standardized-test scores. We have an imperfect picture of school resources, tracking how much money is spent but not how it is spent. And our diversity calculation might be criticized as somewhat arbitrary: It is based on a scenario in which white, African-American, Latino and Hispanic students, and students of other racial or ethnic groups each make up 25 percent of the school's population. We freely admit all of this, and we have encouraged our critics to join us in advocating for the systemic collection of richer and more varied data at the district or state levels.

But despite these limitations, we believe this is the first step toward creating a better source of information for the public. As such, we urge scholars and policymakers to build additional tools to help parents make more informed decisions about the schools that best suit their children.

Beyond providing better information to parents, however, our interest lies in restoring some breadth and sanity to the way we evaluate schools. Americans are bombarded by policy talk framing most schools, particularly those not located in leafy suburbs, as abysmal failures. This disaster narrative is largely sustained by measures of quality that align neatly with wealth and position, reducing schools to competing with each other rather than being identified by their unique strengths. The most disturbing outcome of this propensity is greater inequity.

Quality-conscious middle-income parents cluster together at highly sought-after schools, seeking to better serve their own children. In the process, they not only weaken the schools they leave behind, depleting them of resources and damaging their reputations, but also, in doing so, provide a narrower educational experience for their own children. Everyone loses.

We believe it is possible to give parents richer and more useful information about schools. And, we believe it is possible to do so in a manner that builds confidence rather than eroding it. That means promoting more winners, certainly. But it also means fostering a broader sense of what it means to win, reframing our conversations about school quality to align with our true values, and laying the groundwork for an education system that is both more inclusive and more integrated.

Jack Schneider is an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and the author of the forthcoming book From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse: How Scholarship Becomes Common Knowledge in Education (Harvard Education Press, 2014). He can be found on Twitter @edu_historian.

Anil Nathan is an assistant professor in the department of economics and accounting at the College of the Holy Cross, where he researches and teaches the economics of education.

Vol. 33, Issue 10, Pages 21,23


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gamification in Education

K-12 schools are missing out on this edtech trend (via Pando Daily)
By Carmel DeAmicis On October 11, 2013A study by market research organization Ambient Insight says that edtech games are by and large not making their way into K-12 schools. The lead researcher on the study reported that information anecdotally. It’…

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

10 Million Student Codefest

Computer science education is central to both a bright future for today’s students and innovation going forward. Let’s make a difference with one Hour of Code. Register now at http://hourofcode.com.
Code.org to support the Hour of Code: a massive movement during Computer Science Education Week to recruit 10 million students (and adults) to try computer science for one hour this December 9-15.
Aside from the 3-to-1 gap between computing jobs and graduating students, computer science is foundational for all students today. Yet 90% of schools don’t teach it, and fewer kids learn to program than 10 years ago.

What’s an Hour of Code?
It’s a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify code and show that anyone can learn the basics -- on a browser, smartphone, or “unplugged”. The online tutorials won’t require any prior experience.

How can you help?
  • Ask your local school to participate - share this handout and video with your teacher
  • Participate yourself (or with your child). Set aside one hour to learn, during Dec 9-15
  • If you’re a manager, schedule a 1-hour team event to learn together.
Sign up to participate at http://hourofcode.com, and visit back on Dec 9.

Hour of Code us supported by Microsoft, Google, Apple, Akamai, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and over 100 others, on this unprecedented initiative.



MOOCs and the Media

From my friend Jon Haber's weekly blog:

One of the categories in their three-times-a-day daily e-mail blast is Education. And when Degree of Freedom first got started several months ago, at least one reporter a day was looking for input on a story having something to do with MOOCs.
But as the year wound on, requests for MOOC expertise slowed from 1-3 per day to 1-3 per week, which seems to parallel a decrease in interest in the subject from the mainstream (vs. educational) media over the course of the year. And even publications like The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed have stopped dedicating their technical pages (if not the front pages) entirely to the topic of massive open courses.
I suppose it's only natural that a hot story cannot stay hot forever, especially in an area like education which only tends to hit the front pages of major newspapers when something highly problematic or controversial is occurring. MOOCs fit into both those categories during the first half of 2013 as the original utopian predictions that they would democratize education ran into dystopian visions of a college system decimated by the availability of free online classes from Harvard.
Today, MOOC news is generally of the "more of the same" variety (such as announcements of new courses from Coursera, edX or Udacity, or new MOOC vendors such as FutureLearn and iVersity). And I think it's a sign of health that heaven and hell scenarios are giving way to a more sober assessment of what role MOOCs might play in an expanding universe of technology-driven educational innovations, even if news and analysis of a more reflective and mellower nature doesn't rise to front page coverage like in the "good old days."
If you're looking to learn more about how MOOCs and other learning models are impacting all aspects of education, check out the ongoing discussion at the Degree of Freedom web site.
Copyright © 2013 Degree of Freedom, All rights reserved.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

How to be a Hipster

Edited by Jellybones, Sondra C, Keyboard_Cat, Krystle and 152 others


Hipsters are people who enjoy clothing, music, food and activities outside of the social mainstream. If you want to embrace a lifestyle of independent music labels, vintage clothes, and artisanal coffee, read the guide below.


Hipster Fashion

  1. 1
    Dress like a hipster. Fashion is just as important as your taste in music. While shopping at vintage stores remains a staple for many hipsters, this is not a given, nor does it need to be a part of the hipster wardrobe.

    • Know the labels. Several labels cater to the hipster scene; the more well-known include American Apparel, H&M, ASOS, CobraSnake, and Urban Outfitters.
    • Avoid buying labeled gear from stores run by the label itself (so very not nice consumerism). Instead, look for independent retailers because supporting obscure retailers is "totally deck". For example, buy from local mixed fashion stores near you.
  2. 2
    Wear skinny jeans. The classic "skinny jeans" make the hipster look, both for males and females. Hipster men tend to be as skinny as the women.

    • Note that guy hipsters actually probably wear skinny jeans more than the girls (girls prefer leggings/jeggings/treggings).
    • Alternatively, for women, high-waisted pants (a.k.a. "mom jeans") may also be worn.
  3. 3
    Wear glasses. Hipsters love ironic eyewear such as shuttershades, oversized plastic framed glasses, Buddy Holly glasses, nerd glasses, and — for those who can afford it — authentic Ray Ban Wayfarers in all the colors of the rainbow.

    • Some hipsters wear eyeglasses even though they have 20/20 vision! In this case, pop out the lenses or make sure they're just regular glass.
  4. 4
    Wear ironic tops. For tops, the following are good picks: ironic tees, plaid shirts, cowboy shirts, and anything in gingham, plaid, checkers, paisley, vintage florals.

    • Many hipsters sport tops with appliques, images of animals or forests, other images, characters from children's TV, and ironic sayings or even book covers.
    • Fitted hoodies are perfect, too.
  5. 5
    Dress vintage. Dresses are good for women, preferably vintage floral or lace. Granny's closet is definitely a good source; however, you should know how to sew and restyle vintage clothing to fit you.

  6. 6
    Find suitable footwear. Hipster shoes include cowboy boots, Converse, and a range of flats.

    • Converses are no longer universal. They look great and you can wear them pretty much anywhere, but since everyone wears them, Doc Martens or any other vintage shoes are better.
    • If it's trainers you're after, see Classic Reeboks.
    • For girls, heels aren't the most popular but feel free to wear them. Cute sandals, Keds, boots, and granny boots are not only more practical but also show how little effort you've put forth (even if it took you ages to find the perfect pair).
  7. 7
    Accessorize. There is a wide range of accessories, including large flower headbands, neon nail polish, pins, bright belts, bird necklaces, patterned and colorful leggings, etc.

    • Don't forget your plugs, piercings, and random scars supposedly acquired through woodwork and other carpenter-like endeavors.
    • Appropriately ironic accessories are mandatory, such as things kids would take to school, like an animal image on a lunchbox.
    • Essentials include a courier bag (not a backpack), preferably something from Freitag, that can fit your MacBook, iPhone, and vinyl LPs (never CDs) of your current favorite band.
  8. 8
    Mismatch and layer. Layering or wearing things that don't match together is very hipster. It's that "I can't be bothered" look that actually takes some planning until you get into the habit.

    • Remember that a hipster's outfit never needs adjustment should you decide to go to the beach — keep all of your urban accompaniments for the sand and surf to ironically stick out of your element.

Hipster Health

  1. 1
    Ignore the comments about improper hygiene. Some people associate hipsters with hippies and assume that they don’t shower regularly or otherwise don’t practice proper hygiene. This is a misconception. Though some hipsters participate in the no shampoo movement (which is still very clean), most practice normal hygiene (with bonus artisanal and environmentally-friendly soaps!).

    • While hipsters do shower regularly and clean their teeth, they're just less interested in forking out money for hairstyling, spa sessions, pedicures/manicures, and large make-up kits because these are signs of conforming to cultural ideals of beauty.
    • Arguably, hipsters aren't so interested in "making the most of their assets" because they see their entire self as an asset; from a self-esteem point of view, this is actually a rather healthy outlook.
  2. 2
    Keep your hair casual. Messy hairdos are just fine. The "bed look", long unkempt hair, and hair that resists any attempts to stay flat without chemicals are acceptable looks.

    • Blurring gender lines with haircuts and styles is part of the hipster culture.
    • Greasy hair is considered okay by some in the hipster culture. That doesn't mean you need to concur and a squeaky clean but uncombed do might be more your thing.
    • Some hipsters like to dye their hair in an obvious way.
  3. 3
    Take a green approach to food. Consider growing your own food or turning vegetarian. Use compost if possible. Eating meat isn't always popular with the hipster culture, and many hipsters tend to be vegetarian or vegan. If you do eat meat, you must assert that choice as a cynical transcendence of vegetarians' futile attempts to save the world.

    • Fruit, coffee, Asian food, etc., are all hip foods.
    • If you have absolutely no space to grow your own produce (not even a balcony or a window sill), go to a natural foods market instead.
    • Often, hipsters are alsofoodies and love making gourmet meals. If you can't cook, consider getting some good cookbooks today.

Hipster Lifestyle

  1. 1
    Become a master of reuse. This takes a mixture of frugality, respect for some of the past, and a desire to demonstrate that new things don't define you. Naturally, you'll need to wrestle with the inconsistency of this step with the fact that loving shiny new Apple products and brand new clothes from certain labels is also a side of a true hipster, but since we're all contradictory deep down, the sooner we grasp these contradictions and accept them, the more whole a person we'll be.

    • Commonly known old things associated with hipsters include Parliament cigarettes (and a devil-may-care attitude about smoking laws), Pabst beer, grandparent's clothing (or thrift store finds), bicycles with fixed gears (often ridden to the night clubs), analog cameras, and recycling and reusing almost anything (ingenuity, common sense, and fun comes into this).
  2. 2
    Reject blind consumerism. Hipsters are into "niche consumerism". If your purchase helps local retailers, the environment, the mom and pop retailer, and the craft sellers down the road, then it's hipster.
  3. 3
    Be aware that most hipsters exist in a certain age group. Hipsters tend to be in their teens through to their 30s. This is part of today's "extended adolescent" era, consisting of existential angst, searching for purpose and inner worth, and asking the meaning of everything.
    • Of course, this doesn't mean you can't be a hipster at an older age, but the fact that as you age you get less bothered and upset about the way the world works, or doesn't work, probably means you're a) not so keen to be labeled anything, b) not in need of belonging to any sub-culture, and/or c) less angry than you used to be. It's quite possible you're also very discreetly steering the rudder of your own teens going through "issues" and you're less than keen to adopt more of the same for yourself.
  4. 4
    Be where the hipsters roam. Hipsters tend to congregate in very urban settings and they're connected globally thanks to the Internet. In the USA, you'll tend to find hipsters in major metropolitan centers where "anything goes". Be where there are independent art galleries, movie houses, bands, and people.

    • Think New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, and especially the Brooklyn, N.Y. suburb of Williamsburg (known as the unofficial hipster capital of the world).
    • Places like Glasslands and Pianos will be right up your alley.
    • Los Angeles is also acceptable but be careful not to get sucked into the California culture.
    • For less urban USA, try to find any moderately large college town; and in some states, a college town might be the only liberal part of the state such as Austin, TX, or Lawrence, KS.
    • In the UK, London is your spot, in Canada, try Montreal[1], and in Australia, try Melbourne.[2]
    • Do not force yourself to live or go to these places or countries for the sake of being a hipster. Besides from being too uneconomical (especially if you live on the other side of the world), you can actually begin being a hipster in your place. One of the advantages is if your place knows less about hipsters, the fewer the people who will be discriminating or criticizing you. Take note that the Internet will always be your best friend.
  5. 5
    Be educated. Aim to go to college, as hipsters tend to be well educated in such areas as liberal arts, graphic art, or math and science.

    • Do a lot of reading, even if it means sitting in the local bookstore using their space and not actually purchasing the books you're siphoning up knowledge from. Seek to go to higher level education if you're in your element at college.
    • Hipsters are a subculture that uses more of their right brain than the rest of the society, thus, many hipsters base their career choices around music, art, or fashion. While these areas of work aren't essential choices, they are probably a natural outlet for a hipster's creativity.
    • Education is what helps a hipster to be dismissive about the hue and cry of others; they know it's just history repeating itself, or it's all much ado about nothing.
  6. 6
    Be an early adopter. Hipsters tend to sense what's worthwhile before the trend or item becomes more popular. Many bands become famous only after hipsters first flock to their unknown performances. Many clothing trends were started by hipsters, only to be hijacked later by mainstream fashion houses. Many technical gadgets are taken up by hipsters first, only to become mainstream goodies later.
    • Of course, the irony of being an early adopter hipster is that once the trend or item becomes mainstream, it's time to move on to something else obscure and unrecognized. That's the trouble with being such an independent spirit; you trailblaze but you also have to keep moving on.
    • If you're really good at something like math, physics, medicine, psychology, political analysis, eco-awareness, etc., you might find yourself making amazing discoveries that are light years ahead of everyone else's thinking. You know deep down that you've cottoned onto something that really matters and that it makes sense but others are not convinced because it's the "great unknown". Rest easy and be determined in your knowledge that some day, others will come round to your discovery.
  7. 7
    Don't define yourself to others. One of the key elements of being hipster has been to avoid the label. Don't go around proclaiming your allegiance; to do so would be to start allying with those who like neatly tied-up boxes denoting who is what, when, and where.
    • The moment you define yourself too clearly is the moment you begin to stagnate and risk being captured by the status quo. Many a hipster will therefore deny their "hipster-ness" whenever possible.
    • To preemptively ward off the mockers, some hipsters have taken to extending their sense of irony to include even themselves by acknowledging and mocking their own hipsterdom (for example, wearing a tee that says "I hate hipsters"); that way, by mocking themselves first, no one else can effectively do it.
  8. 8
    Keep a pulse on the hipster community. There is a strong community aspect to hipster culture. If you want to find out about the best new bands or a great local coffee shop, make sure to stay active in the community to get good recommendations and stay ahead of the trends.

    • When some new, obscure band is on Pitchfork (preferably before), you should know about it.
    • Check out Brooklyn Vegan (even if you don't live there), Stereogum, Gorilla vs. Bear, and the Hype Machine as often as possible, but don't make it obvious that you check them every five seconds.

Indie Entertainment

  1. 1
    Read hipster classics. Your reading sources are important because what you read connects you with other hipsters, informs you about cultural issues, and keeps you knowledgeable. There's a lot to be read out there, so sort the wheat from the chaff and get into the things that matter most. Things to read include:

    • Hipster magazines, such as Vice, Another Magazine, and Wallpaper.[3] Foreign magazines are good too.
    • Great books and poetry by people like Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg, and Norman Mailer. Any other books you think are great. Any books, period; reading books sets hipsters apart from a lot of people. Visit the political science, anthropology, and sociology sections of the bookstores and local library frequently.
    • Blogs by other hipsters. You might also be inspired enough to write your own blog frequently.
  2. 2
    Watch hipster cinema. Watch independent and foreign films, as well as attending independent theater productions, such as shows by Ann Liv Young. Watch Wes Anderson, Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch movies.
  3. 3
    Listen to newly emerging, independent music. Indie music is a big part of what being a hipster is all about. Turn to the endless and ever-renewing list of independent artists in the music scene, especially in the areas of nu-rave, minimalist techno, independent rap, nerdcore, Elephant 6, garage rock, classic rock (Beatles usually), and punk rock.

    • Hipster artists of note include Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Belle & Sebastian, Electric President, Stray Kites, Jens Lekman, Neutral Milk Hotel, M83, Neon Indian, Neon Neon, Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos, and King Khan and the Shrines.
    • Music blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear, Indiehere, /mu/, and Stereogum may help you with choosing suitable bands to listen to. Meeting people who are already into these bands will help you as well.
    • Perhaps the most popular hipster music website is Pitchfork Media. If they give an album a good rating, it must be quite hip.
    • One good way to decipher whether or not an artist is hipster is if your non-hipster friends to have never heard of them.
    • Feel free to listen to the music of other countries as well, since most mainstream songs of this decade came out of America, Britain and South Korea.


  1. 1
    Use social media. Female hipsters love to use Blogspot, Tumblr or Wordpress, as well as taking photos with their Holga cameras and making cross-processed and "dream-like" pictures. Social media can also be a great way to find new things to enjoy, before they become mainstream.

  2. 2
    Date other hipsters. The reason to "hook up" with other hipsters is that you're much more likely to connect and see eye-to-eye on a range of issues. The all-American muscle guy or sorority-style tanned blond are not likely to be your type, so a fellow hipster is the answer.

  3. 3
    Start dancing. If you want to spot a hipster, just turn around the next time you're at a show and see them standing in the back discussing Stella or Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) in a can. Sometimes, if the music and setting is right, you will witness hipsters engaging in dance movements.

    • Hipster dancing, if done right, does not use so much of the hips as it does the upper body and arms. Lots of swinging your head back and forth but only do this if you're not humiliated easily (and as a hipster, you really shouldn't care).
    • Although you'll rarely see hipsters dancing at shows, they tend to enjoy separate dance parties where they can dance to an array of more upbeat hipster dance music.
  4. 4
    Get the lingo and the attitude. While there will be many variations—part of the reality of hipster culture is that things change constantly—there are some things that are useful to know:
    • Remember to use perhaps the most important hipster line: "I liked them before they were cool." Another good line given the recent spate of disasters is to say something like: "I donated to Haiti... before the disaster."
    • Namedrop often. Talk about all the obscure bands you like that nobody you know has heard of. When your friends talk about a band you're unfamiliar with, just say you've heard of them but not actually heard them. Look them up the next time you have a chance to. It'll give you more cred.
    • Insult a lot of bands. If you love everything you'll seem like a fanatic. Make sure to give off a vibe that you're too cool and elite for a lot of bands.
    • If you would like to seem more educated and elite there is the key phrase " I liked their first EP, but pretty much after that I never got into them."
    • Use made-up words as often as possible. Or use real words that no one really knows the meaning of unless they look them up (eg. pulchritudinous, cordiform, and petrichor).
  5. 5
    Hone your humor. A hipster is known for their strong sense of irony and sarcasm. When asked a question, refuse to answer directly; instead, obfuscate, ask a question in return, or just be plain sarcastic.

    • Be sure to layer on the smirk to indicate your lack of seriousness, because it's possible for the other person to mistake your sarcasm for sincerity.
    • For example: When in a theater watching a movie, and the person next to you turns to say, "Oh, my God, that was so cool! Did you see that?", in a dry tone, reply something along the lines of, "No, I paid $12.50 to stare at the ceiling."
    • Watch British comedies for examples of good uses of sarcasm you can borrow.
    • Have a sense of humorous perspective and don't take yourself too seriously. Hipsters are often parodied, so knowing how to laugh at derision will help a lot.
  6. 6
    Be prepared for critics. Be aware that hipsterism is frequently parodied or derided because hipsters bother some people. You're going to need to get used to disdainful attitudes and to work out the ways in which you're most comfortable responding.

    • There will often be an insistence that your sub-culture is "less than" whatever it is the hater "believes" in.
    • Given the tendency for hipsters to follow progressive politics, it's likely you'll encounter occasional conservative disdain, so it's probably a good idea to brush up on your responses to any standard ridicule.
    • As for people who poke fun at your fashion sense, remind the so-called trendy mass that their worn and torn jeans fashion was created by children who are little more than slaves in some sweatshop and if they want to contribute to that, they’re welcome to.
    • Recognize the root of the problem. Realize that a lot of people who attack you may have deep insecurities about their own place in society and have very mixed ideas of what culture is, or how they reconcile the variant elements of culture with their own lifestyle and preferences. Practice a little compassion.
    • Know that geeks have an odd relationship with hipsters. While some are disdainful, other geeks recognize the overlap of the cultures.[4]

  • Always find alternatives for everything when your favorite item or artist turns mainstream.
  • Rather than going to Starbucks for coffee, go to a local shop or make your own at home to boost up your hipster cred. Carry around a durable thermos cup for your homemade coffee; if it has a sticker against genetic engineering on the side, so much the better.
  • Don't listen to any songs that don't have a deep and depressing lyrical vibe.
  • Buy a Mac, Apple TV, and an iPad. The iPod and iPhone are too mainstream now, so for your smartphone, pick up a Windows Phone, preferably from a hip brand like Huawei. Chinese manufacturers only!
  • Go to shows — music, drama, opera, poetry, comedy, gladiators. The more, the better.
  • Don't drive an expensive car. Don't even own a car at all. It is a waste of gas and money and parking will frazzle your brain. Ride a bike instead - make it a fixed or single gear bike. The fixed-gear bicycle should have skinny tires, genuine Brooks leather saddle and no front brake. Even if you do not own a bike (i.e., drive a car), make sure to roll up your right pant leg to give off the appearance that you just crossed town without increasing your carbon footprint. The rolled-up pant leg is not complete with your carabiner jangling with as many keys as possible. The more you look like you work days as a messenger and moonlight as a janitor, the more hip you will be.
  • Many hipsters are interested in "geeky" subjects", like philosophy or film criticism. If you find things like that interesting, it increases one's hipster cred to bring them up in conversation.
  • Don't wear crocs.
  • There is a constant myth that hipsters live off their parents. Some might, just as some people might from many other sub-cultures, but equally a lot of hipsters happily make their own living.
  • It is common for hipsters to play instruments, and starting a band of your own is a great way to showcase your love of independent music. You don't have to be good; just be enthusiastic.
  • Do your own hair. The pudding basin is an excellent old-fashioned solution for a straight haircut if that's a problem for you. Simply up-end it over your head and use sharp scissors to cut your bangs or hair edge.
  • Be patient with habits you've recently given up and with new ones you are taking up. Luckily, It only takes about a month or two to get into the lifestyle.
  • Don't watch MTV all the time. You shouldn't use it as a way to find out about music. However, maybe watching some trashy reality show will be seen as ironic.
  • A simple and cheap way to achieve the eyeglasses look is to pop out the lenses of the thick, 3D glasses that theaters give out for 3D movies. Put on the glasses and you've got your eyeglasses! Plus, there won't be any lenses to get in your way.
  • Don't take this article too seriously, instead see it as a set of guidelines to work with as befits you. Hipsters pride themselves on their independence from the mainstream.
  • Try not to take yourself too seriously.
  • The goal of being a hipster is to look like you're not trying, however, if you are one, you are probably trying really hard, or at least enough. Just accept it.
  • Negativity can pervade the hipster culture, perhaps as a counteraction to the ridiculously-positive, can-do motivational speaker style attitudes pervading much of the business and consumer culture these days. However, negativity is not an answer, it's simply a reaction. Always try to find balance and peace in your life rather than seeing doom and gloom in everything. Yes, society is full of problems but being negative about them won't solve or change such problems whereas a realistic and pragmatic approach to doing things that make a difference will go part the way to bringing about a better world. Remember too, that every generation is cursed with thinking things used to be or could be better. We are time-bound and body-bound creatures who need to accept our limitations while making the most of what we do know and can do. Constant deconstructing and criticizing of society can all too easily turn into a paralysis-by-analysis lifestyle, in which complaining becomes your modus operandi but actually changing the status quo is not something you're tooled up to do.
  • Sometimes, just sometimes, you may be really frustrated that other people don't get what's so great about your music, fashion, and other choices. Give it up; you won't ever see, hear, or feel the things they love the way they do, and that's because everyone is different.

Edit Things You'll Need

  • Hipster clothes (see above)
  • Plaid shirts
  • Scarves (to wear year-round)
  • Vintage boots
  • Tattoo
  • Turntable
  • An old camera (polaroid is suggested.)
  • Fixed-gear bike
  • Your own garden
  • Fountain Pen
  • Any Apple product always updated
  • Instagram (remember to add hashtags!)

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Categories: Featured Articles | Urban Styles
Recent edits by: sarah saieed, Little_birdy, Julia

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