Foreword by: Michelle Fine
Publication Date: May 25, 2018
Speaking out against decades of injustice and challenging deficit perceptions of young learners and their families, It’s Not About Grit pulls back the veil, revealing the social systems that marginalize and stigmatize mostly poor, urban students of color and their communities. At the same time, author Steven Goodman, founding executive director of NYC’s highly acclaimed Educational Video Center (EVC) for nearly 35 years, shows the tremendous intelligence, resilience, and sense of agency of these students. Through the students’ in-school and out-of-school experiences, enhanced with curriculum guides and award-winning video clips from EVC, Goodman encourages educators to make a difference and demonstrates how to create safe and inclusive spaces where their teaching responds to students’ culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, housing status, and ability. Teachers will use this book to develop a pedagogy of transformative teaching.
Steven Goodman is founding executive director of Educational Video Center (EVC), a nonprofit youth media organization in New York City dedicated to teaching documentary video as a means to develop artistic, critical literacy, and career skills of young people, and author of Teaching Youth Media: A Critical Guide to Literacy, Video Production, and Social Change.
“This is a terrific book and badly needed at this time when ‘grit’ has become the magic word in pedagogic thinking about inner-city kids. Goodman rightly notes that “fixing” children of the poor by fostering their perseverance and persistence—worthy values in themselves—does nothing to address the toxic forces that surround their lives. In tandem with the videos to which the book is linked, it’s a vivid and arresting answer to a newly cultish fashion that is doing us no good.”
—Jonathan Kozol, education activist and bestselling author
“This book reads like an absorbing documentary; these are stories that need a public response to match the work of EVC.”
—Deborah Meier, education reform leader
"This is an insightful and moving analysis of how students from marginalized backgrounds use their work with video to tell their stories, develop critical thinking skills, and overcome obstacles. As the founder and executive director of the Educational Video Center, Steve Goodman has years of experience in helping to create powerful learning experiences for young people. In this important new book, he shares these experiences and shows us that beyond working hard and demonstrating grit, low-income students need support and guidance to become resilient."
—Pedro A. Noguera, University of California, Los Angeles
"This wide-ranging, penetrating, and telling book is a marvel that highlights a new and needed direction for American education."
—David E. Kirkland, New York University
"It’s not about grit, but it is about agency. Nobody knows better than Steve Goodman how to help young people tell their stories and, in the process, empower themselves with research and video skills and an activist sense of justice. In this brilliant book, Goodman shares their stories with us, with a depth and particularity that you'll find moving and also, I hope, stirring."
—Joseph P. McDonald, professor emeritus, New York University
Tentative Table of Contents
Foreword by Michelle Fine
Guides for Using Videos
Chapter 1. "Unlivable Conditions": Health and Housing
"Where the Rats Come Out": Slumlord Neglect
"Silent Killers": Mold and Asthma in Public Housing
"Where Are We Going To Wind Up?"—The Trauma of Foreclosure
"As If They're Passing Away": Gentrification
"We Have a Petition": Speaking Out and Taking Action
Chapter 2. "They Put Us Down, When We Already Down": Police and Juvenile Justice
"He Starts Grabbing Me": Student Perspectives on Policing In and Out of Schools
"It's a Memorable Moment": Stop-and-Frisk Policing of Students in the Community
"All My Youth Was Locked Up In Prison"—Juvenile Incarceration and the War on Drugs
"My Father Never Got to Know Me": Growing Up With Incarcerated Parents
"Their Wrists Are Too Small, So You Have To Handcuff Them Up By Their Biceps"—Zero-Tolerance Policing In School
"I Was 15. Came Home at 25."—Juvenile Detention in Rikers
"On the Side of the Kids"—Restorative Justice and Student Action
Chapter 3. "The Legal Right to Be Somebody": Immigration
"Fearful of Any Institution": Challenges Facing Emergent Biinguals
"In the Desert, the Mountains, the Cold—With Only Water": Border Crossing Stories
"I Was Doing Really Bad": A Downward Educational Spiral
"She's Barely Home": Labor Exploitation and Parent School Participation
"He Never Went to School"—A Climate of Fear
"I Was Empowering My People": Student Immigrant Rights
Chapter 4. "People Are Strong When They Stand Together"—Gender and Identity
"I Never Went Back"—Bullying and Anti-LGBTQ Violence
"Get the Hell Out!"—Family Rejection and LGBTQ Homelessness
"The Place for Me!"—Inclusive School Cultures and Legal Silencing
"I Never Talked with Anybody About This"—Sexual Harassment
"Being the Sexy Girl"—Body Image and Self-Objectification
"I Look Fat"—Body Image and Eating Disorders
"Save a Kid's Education"—Girls Support Groups and GSAs
Chapter 5. "Some Place to Call Home": Foster Care and Child Welfare
"They Stole 10 Years From Me"—The Trauma of Family Separation
"The System Failed Me"—The Disproportionate Academic Impact of Foster Care
"Welfare Queens"—The Criminalization of Poor Black Mothers
"She Could Not Take Care of Herself"—Parental Substance Abuse
"Not Me, Not Mine"—Aging Out and Youth Advocacy
Conclusion: "I've Got Your Back"—Moving From Trauma and Resilience Towards Student Activism
"Sites of Possibility"
"A Knock on the Door"—A Sign of the Times
"Where We Want To Be"—Participatory Action Research
At the Screening—Parting Thoughts
About the Author
Free clips from student-produced video documentaries discussed in the book.
Discounts on full documentaries with proof of purchase of the book.