It's Not about Grit: Trauma, Inequity, and the Power of Transformative Teaching

Steven Goodman (Author) Michelle Fine (Foreword by)


2018 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award in Education

2019 PROSE Award in Education Finalist

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 a curriculum guide and award-winning video clips from EVC, Goodman encourages educators to make a difference and demonstrates how to create a safe and inclusive school climate 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.

Book Features:

  • Draws on the author's many years of practice with struggling learners who may be experiencing the trauma of poverty, violence, or family separation.
  • Uses a unique blend of students' personal stories, classroom experience, and social and political policy to inform the teaching of marginalized students.
  • Provides a comprehensive review of the issues that students bring to the classroom, including health and housing, police and juvenile justice, immigration, gender and identity, and foster care.
  • Links to original clips from student-produced video documentaries and a curriculum guide to spark discussions in college courses, professional development workshops, and high school classes:

Product Details

Teachers College Press
Publish Date
June 01, 2018
6.0 X 0.6 X 8.9 inches | 0.65 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

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 the artistic, critical literacy, and career skills of young people. He is the author of Teaching Youth Media: A Critical Guide to Literacy, Video Production, and Social Change.


"Informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, It's Not About Grit is very highly recommended as an addition to school district in-service teacher training curriculums, as well as college and university Teacher Education instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

--Wisconsin Bookwatch

From a teacher education point of view, this book is a valuable resource for courses...This book makes important connections for educators, spelling out why it's not accurate to focus solely on the inner resources of low-income students, and describing the history of systemic societal problems that influence this population's educational experiences, such as housing and immigration policy. The documentary clips that are provided as links throughout the book will help these issues come alive in the classroom, and the guide that is included at the end of the book will support productive conversations.

-- Teachers College Record

"Goodman evokes a strong sense of empathy in the reader...Thorough and well-researched chapters are accompanied by powerful video clips and anecdotes from Goodman's own students at the EVC. Goodman, from a place of vigor and empathy, advocates for open discussion between students and teachers, inquiry and community-based learning, and more frank acknowledgment of the societal barriers marginalized students face."

--Journal of Social Studies Research