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Achievement vs Accomplishment

The accomplished student is a successful student.

Achievement is most commonly associated with a letter grade, percentile, standardized mean, or other metric. A relentless pursuit of an A grade often obscures, if not obstructs, the learning process. The grade as instructional product - rather than learning as educational process - distorts achievement. Positive psychology suggests that there is a distinction between achievement that is focused on quantitative scores and accomplishment that is focused on qualitative results.

Achievement typically measures an externally imposed standard. Accomplishment typically describes an internally motivated goal.

Accomplishment is the inventory of what children have done well in the past and what they aspire to do well in the future for personal satisfaction and lasting fulfillment. Accomplishment is the pursuit and practice of academic, social, and emotional intentions and excellence at home, at work, at school, and at play, meeting personal goals, and deriving satisfaction from the process.

An accomplished child or youth is elected leader in the friendship club, plays the piano because he loves music, and reads a book because he is curious about a subject. He studies for a test because he wants to do well, writes a letter because he misses his aunt, draws a picture because it calms him, acts brave because others are counting on him, and teaches tolerance because he empathizes with the sting of unfair treatment.

An accomplished child or youth sorts out emotions when confused, engages strength when discouraged, makes friends when lonely, summons courage when called to it, contributes in meaningful ways when uncertain, and enjoys authentic accomplishment as the fruit of their labor.

Students learn to leverage their emotional skills to accomplish their personal and academic goals. The goal of positive psychology is to systematically teach children about their emotionality, their strengths, the requirements of friendships, the meaning of life, and to take pride in their efforts and accomplishments.

The accomplishment that begets success requires deferred gratification, self-efficacy, and tenacity that empower determination and motivation despite adversity. The measure of the positive psychology teaching taxonomy of success is the degree to which children can establish personal goals, direct effort toward those goals, and accomplish them or edit them with equanimity.

If children and adolescent truly know their emotions, can identify their strengths, can build grit, connect with others, can find meaning no matter the tasks, and can become accomplished classroom citizens, they will achieve more academically. Achievement is a by-product of accomplishment.

The accomplished student knows an ‘A’ is more than three sticks.


Read: Choice Theory by William Glasser Institute

Read: Well Being: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath

Explore: Goal Setting Activities for Kids

Explore: Find Well Being

Explore: Things We Forget Blogspot


I would love to hear from you. Do you distinguish between achievement and accomplishment? Do you think there is a distinction? What was your greatest achievement in elementary school? In secondary school? In your personal life? In your professional life? What inspired your accomplishment? Who helped support your accomplishment? Was the accomplishment easy or difficult? Short or long term? Was the accomplishment a single feat or a series of feats? Did you accomplish it alone or as part of a team? Was the accomplishment intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? What did you learn in the process of accomplishment? Can a greatest accomplishment be a failure or must it be a success?

My upcoming book, Positive Psychology in the Elementary School Classroom, is the first in a series intended to help teachers build positive psychology classrooms.

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