Nigel Grant (1932 - 2003)

nigel grant

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Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Nigel Duncan Cameron Grant was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He was married to Valerie Evans and he left two children and three grandchildren. Nigel was an Emeritus Professor at the University of Glasgow. He always told the story that he was of humble origins, and that whenever his aunt took him for a walk nearby the University of Glasgow, she used to tell him:   “One day you will study here”. With tears in his eyes, Nigel used to add: “ And she was right!”.

Nigel liked to be called “An International Scots”, and that is how his short biography and significant, special and original contribution to Comparative and International Education lies. Indeed, on the one hand, his classes, as well as his  innumerable articles, book chapters, books and other writings in International, Comparative and Multicultural Education attest not only  to his broad knowledge and understanding of the plural, different world contexts where educational systems have developed, but most of all how a multicultural understanding should help increase tolerance, appreciation and the valuing of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender and other “identity markers”, as he used to call them, which are inherent to those societies, all around the world. Nigel wrote from the perspective of a comparativist who really knew those societies, having been a great traveller and a great linguist competent in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Danish, modern and ancient Greek, among others, besides English, his mother tongue.  Nigel was also proficient in artistic expressions. He played Shakespeare characters up to 1965 in Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow, where he was both as a young student and later as a lecturer in Education. Also, he wrote original poems, about universal themes as love and nature, as well as short stories and plays.

His broad, multicultural understanding helped him reaffirm his Scottish identity and his strong determination to challenge stereotypes and prejudices against culturally diverse identities, including the Scottish one. He was a Scots who valued Scots’ culture and the Scots’ language, a theme he wrote about encouraging his countrymen to be proud of their heritage. His discussions helped understand that the categories of language and dialects are  linked to power relations dating back to colonial times that valued hegemonic views to the detriment of a plurality of cultures, races and languages, a point that has been stressed by postcolonial and decolonial thinking to these days. He used his comparative knowledge to point out similarities between long-held prejudices against the Catalan language in Spain and the position of the Scots language vis-à-vis the English language.  Relatedly, he used to stress the importance of preserving languages rather than destroying them, all of which have been crucial ideas for critical multicultural thinking in comparative education. His writings in Scots include translations of English articles, as well as original poems and short stories.

However, congruent with his international and multicultural understanding, Nigel was weary of any movement that tried to build antagonisms and dichotomies that refused to understand the hybrid and dynamic movements of identity construction, including the Scottish identity itself. His “Scottishness” was affirmative, yet not exclusionary of other identities, which made him refuse to adhere to any movement that froze identities on the lines of “I” and “the other”. Such a view revealed his generosity towards humanity and his strong and coherent personality that led him to refuse “ready-made” ideologies that could reinforce rather than challenge racisms and stereotypes.

Nigel’s main writings emphasised the relevance of comparative educaiton in order to: (i) improve educational systems;(ii) make sure that teacher education and schools should be more inclusive, plural, and democratic; (iii) value the  plurality of languages, races, and cultures, so that minorities should not be marginalised or “otherised”. Such ideas have been the cornerstone of the challenges still faced by Comparative and Internatioal Education in the context of increased international migration and cultural diversity  within contemporary societies, including conflict and post-conflict ones. The International Scots Nigel Grant was a true asset to Scotland, as well as to all countries and to the field Comparative and International Education.

Educational Background

University of Glasgow, Diploma in Education, M.A. Honours English LIterature and Language, Honours II, 1954.

University of Glasgow, Diploma in Education, concurrent with Teacher Training, 1955.

Jordanhill College of Education, Teachers’ Certificate Chapter V English, concurrent with Glasgow University Dip. Ed, 1955.

University of Glasgow, M.Ed. then entitled Ed.B., Honours I, 1959. Thesis Title: Script and Literacy in Asia.

University of Glasgow, PhD, 1969. Thesis Title: Teacher Training in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the Post-War Period, 1945-1965.


Professional Background

Teacher of English, Lightburn Secondary School and Crookston Castle Secondary School, Glasgow, 1957-1960.

Jordanhill College of Education, Glasgow; Lecturer in Education, 1960-1965.

University of Edinburgh; Reader in Educational Studies, 1965-1972.

University of Glasgow; Professor of Education, 1979-1995.

University of Glasgow; Professor Emeritus of Education and Professorial Research Fellow, 1995-2003.


Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Member of the Editorial Board of: Scottish Education Review

Member of the Editorial Board of: Comparative Education

Member of the Editorial Board of: Compare

Selected Publications

Grant, N. (1972). Teacher Training in the USSR and Eastern Europe, Comparative Education, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 7 – 29.

Grant, N. (1974). Sexual Equality in the Communist World, Compare, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 24-30.

Grant, N. (1976). Scottish Education: A Brief Guide for the Perplexed, Trends in Education, No. 4, pp. 4-12.

Grant, N. (1981). The British Isles as an Area of Study in Comparative Education, Compare, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 135 – 153.

Grant, N. (1983). Cultural Diversity and Education in Scotland, European Journal of Education, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 53-63.

Grant, N. (1987). The Education in Great Britain: a Scottish Viewpoint, Education Today, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 17-27.

Grant, N. (1992). “Scientific” Racism: What Price Objectivity?, Scottish Educational Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 24-31.

Grant, N. & Docherty, F. L. (1992). Language and Education: Some Scottish-Catalan Comparisons, Comparative Education, Vol.22, No.2, pp. 145-166.

Grant, N. (1993). Multicultural Societies in the European Community – the Odd Case of Scotland, European Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 5, No.1, pp. 51-60.

Grant, N. (1996). Gaelic and Education in Scotland developments and perspectives, Scottish Gaelic Studies, Vol. XVII, Special Volume: Feill-sgribhinn do Ruaraidh MacThomais, pp. 150-158.

Grant, N. (1997). The Scots leid an ither wee toungs: how kin Scots haud up in Europe? Chapman 85, pp. 25-30.

Grant, N. (1997). Multicultural Education in Scotland: Ourselves and Others, Scottish Educational Review, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 134-145.

Canen, A. & Grant, N. (1997). Intercultural Perspectives and Knowledge for Equity in the Mercosul Countries: Limits and Potentials in Educational Policies, Comparative Education, Vol. 35, No.3, pp. 319 – 330.


Created: 18 March 2016

Contributed by: Ana Ivenicki, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro