In When Grit Isn’t Enough, Linda Nathan investigates five assumptions that inform our ideas about education today, revealing how these beliefs mask systemic inequity. Seeing a rift between these false promises and the lived experiences of her students, she argues that it is time for educators to face these uncomfortable issues head-on and explores how educators can better serve all students, increase college retention rates, and develop alternatives to college that don’t disadvantage students on the basis of race or in- come. Drawing on the voices of Boston Arts Academy alumni whose stories provide a window through which to view urban education today, When Grit Isn’t Enough helps imagine greater purposes for schooling.
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Linda Nathan, EdD is the co-founder and co-director of the Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership (PSi), a year-long graduate certificate program that develops innovative leaders who integrate education, artistic, and community-based resources to transform the lives of youth and families.
Dr. Nathan is a Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she teaches courses on school design and school observation. As an experienced leader in education, Dr. Nathan actively mentors teachers and principals, and consults nationally and internationally on a wide range of topics, such as: leadership, creativity, pedagogy, differentiated instruction, curriculum design, family engagement, developing mission, vision and values, board development and fundraising, as well as strategic planning with an equity focus, and how to develop and evaluate a new or existing schools or nonprofits. Her international consulting includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, South Africa.
Dr. Nathan’s widely praised book, The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test, about teaching and leadership in urban schools, was published in 2009 in both English and Spanish. Her second book, When Grit Isn’t Enough, was released by Beacon Press in October of 2017. She blogs at www.lindanathan.com.
Dr. Nathan previously served as Faculty Director of the Creative Educational Leadership Institute at Boston University School of Education. Her prior positions also include Special Advisor to the Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, and Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Arts in Education. Dr. Nathan was also the Founding Headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s first public high school for the visual and performing arts, and the Co- Director of Fenway High School, one of the first pilot schools in the Boston Public Schools. Dr. Nathan also founded two nonprofit organizations: El Pueblo Nuevo, which focused on arts and youth development, and the Center for Collaborative Education, which works on issues of school reform. She began her teaching career in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then came to Boston to work as a bilingual middle school teacher.
Dr. Nathan holds a Doctor of Education degree from Harvard University, Master’s degrees from Emerson College and Antioch University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
In When Grit Isn’t Enough, veteran educator Linda Nathan gives the lie to five popular but unproven beliefs about education that do little to improve schooling but instead blame the victims of poor and unequal schooling. This is a courageous book, one that challenges all of us, educators and non-educators alike, to do better for our most vulnerable students.
It’s a marvelous book, and badly needed at this time. Drawing on the powerful stories of children at the Boston Arts Academy, Linda Nathan bravely confronts the widely circulated myth that children who grow up in poverty can overcome inequity and every other daunting obstacle they face if they just ‘believe,’ ‘persevere,’ ‘work like hell,’ and show sufficient ‘grit.’ Many of these students do prevail, but Nathan makes it clear that ‘grit’ is not enough and that our adherence to this appeasing myth is letting a divided and bitterly unequal social order off the hook.
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