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When Grit Isn't Enough: Five Assumptions about American Education and How They Hurt Students

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Published October 17th 2017 by Beacon Press
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When Grit Isn't Enough: Five Assumptions about American Education and How They Hurt StudentsWhen Grit Isnt Enough by Linda F. Nathan is an exciting, sometimes overwhelming, book examining the assumptions we make in this country about how people succeed, especially in school. Nathan is a professor at Harvard Universitys Graduate School of Education and founding headmaster of the Boston Arts AcademyBAA--Bostons only public high school for the visual and performing arts. Drawing on her experience ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learned two things from this book - 1. Most administrators and teachers/professors in high schools and colleges have no clue what it means to be poor and 2. High schools and colleges should spend time teaching children and their parents the basics - how to budget money, how to complete financial aid forms, how to read and respond to emails/letters, the importance of meeting deadlines and the true cost of going to college.

Amy Ingalls
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways, nonfiction
I won this book in a giveaway. This book is an important read for middle and high school educators. I am a first generation college graduate. I grew up in a housing project, surrounded by poverty and crime. I also grew up with a lot of people that loved and believed in me, but didn't understand much of what I was going through in school. I had always been an honor student and college was assumed to be a given, but no one in my family knew what that meant. It meant 11 years of going to school (a ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If youre a college student, when is grit not enough? When youre not a white student in the middle-to-upper class. Linda Nathan, founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, tracks some of her talented high school graduates who needed grit and a whole lot more. She concludes that perseverance and hard work alone cant overcome the obstacles imposed by poverty, daily microaggressions, stereotype threat, and lack of cultural capital necessary to navigate the classrooms, dormitories, and ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I think that When Grit Isn't Enough is an important book reflecting on the status of higher education in students who aren't white, upper-middle class, with college educated parents, etc. The idea of the US meritocracy is so comforting because it makes people who have "achieved it all" feel as if they had a lot of agency in that process, but in fact the entire concept is a flimsy house of cards. One small breath of air will knock it over and expose it as the outright lie that it is. It's easier ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Nathan's book comes along right at the time we get a new meaning for the word "woke". That movement carries a lot of baggage, but one of the trends seems to be for the privileged to understand the institutions that favor them to the detriment of those lacking privilege. "Grit" as a topic to unpack and understand is great! Duckworth's research was helpful in nailing down a key component to nurturing a developing mind-- but it still isn't the be-all-end-all that some educational institutions want ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education-texts
There is so much about this book that I appreciate, namely the author's push-back against the idea of using grit as a magic fix-all for students' low achievement. She acknowledges the problematic reality that when we focus our efforts on getting our students to up their grittiness, then we are giving external factors like poverty and institutional oppression a pass: "Without intense interrogation we might assume that success is individually created and sustained. 'If I could do it, so can you' ...more
Roger Smitter
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Linda F Nathan challenges five assumptions about hard work and success in college and in life.

Money doesnt have to be an obstacle
Race doesnt matter
Just work harder
Everyone can go to college
If you believe in yourself, your dreams will come true.

Nathan calls these the grit words: If you have grit, you can overcome the barriers to an education.

The grit words dont work for Nathan. Her evidence is the stories of students in her school. The problem, she says, is that grit makes us
Crystal Harkness
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I actually could not finish this book. It was well written and the author put a lot into it from her experiences as a parent of college graduates and as an educator in the public school system. But I had a hard time agreeing with all her arguments. I think the only people who would really enjoy or gain much from this book are educators, parents who want their kids to go to college, and perhaps college students who are struggling in school. This book is filled with stories of kids not making it ...more
Jill Davidson
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
What's stopping more of our prepared, motivated young people from finding their way not only to but through college? Based on her work as the founding headmaster of Boston Arts Academy (BAA), Linda thinks about the opportunities and obstacles that confront that graduates--and millions of their peers--as they move into higher education. After talking to more than 90 BAA graduates, Linda identifies 5 assumptions that create real problems for the ways we support young people to find success, and ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a tough read at parts for me. There was a lot of it I found interesting and insightful. Some of it, however, I really struggled with agreeing with Ms. Nathan on wholeheartedly. There is nothing wrong with a good argument, but I often find myself wrestling with the idea that one can take the experiences of a set of students at one school and extrapolate that across the entirety of students as a whole. I am sure she did some research in this process, but it is just the limitation of ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first chapter, "Money Doesn't Have to Be an Obstacle" basically brought back my clinical depression that formed thanks to being a typical low-income black student in a middle-class white school system, feelings I usually successfully avoid until I remember I'm a college dropout and feel like shit. But enough of some of my reasons for therapy! The rest was so-so.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Well written. Nathan explores "myths" about how all students can go to college and succeed and then using anecdotes mostly from students are her school, Boston Arts Academy, as well as other examples tp show how those myths can be misleading and dangerous. She also uses positive examples of how they are or could be overcome.
Mike Thomas
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Some important and accurate ideas are in here, but too often it feels like the author is indirectly working through their guilt of not being able to effectively disrupt the institution due to buying into an oppressive structure for education. It happens to all of us, but you don't have to write a book about it.
Kathy Heare Watts
Aug 13, 2019 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathy by:
I won a copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am paying it forward by donating it to my local library.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads-wins
This is an environmentally and socially important book. I recommend it for anyone who wants to read it. and also for those who see it but don't want to read it.
Jennifer Miller
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for educators.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really good read for all educators teaching in the US.
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