I get to read a lot of great books about teaching. Recently, I read one I want to share with EVERYONE. It feels that important, like the guidebook that will help us leave old-school learning in the dust and sprint up the golden stairs to the new era of creative education.
It’s called In Search of Deeper Learning, by Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine. And I’d like to invite you to discuss it with me and a community of forward-thinking, creative educators online through a book club in my Facebook group, Creative High School English. We’re going to begin the conversation on the first two chapters come October 15th, and will continue to discuss the book over the coming months. Please join us! Right now the invitation is pinned to the top of the group as an announcement, and as I introduce new threads for discussion throughout the fall and early winter I’ll use the hashtag #deeperlearningbookclub so you can easily find them all.
Mehta and Fine spent many hundreds of hours in high schools across America, exploring how school structures, teaching styles, and content choices influenced the deeper learning outcomes of students. They did deep research dives into project-based learning schools, I.B. Schools, No Excuses Schools, Harkness schools, and large public high schools. They also did a careful examination of what they call the periphery – clubs, after-school activities, and electives – and came to the conclusion that core academic disciplines have a lot to learn from the alternative “grammar of schooling” that exists outside of the core.
By the end of the book, I was singing along to their tune. Loudly. Think Journey.
They push for many wonderful things, like…
- giving teachers the respect they deserve to create meaningful courses in their own ways
- treating students as meaning makers in their own right
- blurring the lines between our disciplines as they work out in the world and as they function in our classrooms, adopting David Perkins’ idea of “the whole game at the junior level”
- creating learning communities with aspects of apprenticeship – in which younger learners can learn from adults and older, more skilled peers about how to be successful
- choosing depth, choice, and habits of mind over breadth of content
- respecting engagement as an important part of learning, not just some song and dance contrived to entertain students