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Interchange – Exceptions Aren’t the Rule: When Grit Isn’t Enough


Our guest is the founding headmaster of The Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s first public high school for the visual and performing arts, Linda Nathan. Nathan has written When Grit Isn’t Enough, a strong critique of the concept of inculcating “grit” in education as well as of its proselytizers and proponents. It’s published by Beacon Press.

Our music throughout also comes from Massachusetts by way of the Berkshires. We’ll be hearing selections from The Lenox School of Jazz Concert of 1959 performed at the Berkshire Music Barn in Lenox. Prominent among the jazz greats there was Indiana University’s late distinguished professor of music, trombonist David Baker.

Art and work: things we do with our bodies, our hands, our mouths, our ears. Linda Nathan’s educational focus is on ways we are active learners. An arts education has much in common with a vocational education, an education designed to put learners in direct contact with the life of work and the work of life.

Grit has its place in how our children have to deal with inequality in every aspect of their lives–if they didn’t already have grit, how could they even get up in the morning to open their eyes on their government-sponsored, banking-enforced poverty?

The game is rigged as Nathan shows throughout her book: even the best, the brightest, grittiest students can forget to fill out a form, or miss an email alerting them to a loan deadline, and find themselves worse off than they began being now saddled with debt and nothing to show for it. On the heels of Black History Month we discover the continuity of systemic poverty and racism in the US made active in the bureaucratic processes of education funding.

Linda Nathan is the first executive director of the Center for Artistry and Scholarship and has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for fifteen years. Dr. Nathan served as founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. Nathan is the author of The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test.

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Choctaw Academy: Educating the Vanquished
Subverting Democracy Through Education Reform

The Lenox School of Jazz Concert – August 29, 1959
“The Sphinx”
“D. C. Special”
“Monk’s Sphere”
“Lone Ranger and the Great Horace Silver”

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Studio Engineer: Bryce Martin
Executive Producer: Wes Martin

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