Former superintendent discusses how schools can 'move the rock' toward deeper learning
- Former superintendent Grant Lichtman shares his thoughts on the seven levers of deeper learning highlighted in his new book, Moving the Rock, in this District Administration interview.
- Lichtman contends that there is a high level of agreement among stakeholders about the need for deeper learning which excites student curiosity and increases student voice and choice, but that many school leaders are not sure how to achieve that model and are concerned about how it will affect college acceptance rates.
- Converting to a deeper learning model will eventually require changing attitudes from colleges, changing leadership models and changing assessments, Lichtman says, but there is still much that schools can do to "move the rock."
The current focus in schools on high-stakes testing requires training students to learn a set of standards and facts, but the deeper learning approach invites students to play a greater role in their own education and has the goal of developing these students into the curious, analytical, collaborative individuals the modern workplace seeks. Litchtman contends that while this process will take a major shift in education policy, school leaders can still incorporate strategies that will help implement the deeper learning model.
One of those ways is by giving both teachers and students a greater voice. Students need to be given a voice and a choice in some of the educational decisions that affect them. They also need to have a greater degree of input into their own education, a method that should encourage engagement. Teachers need to be allowed to have a greater leadership role, leading from within the organization rather than following directives from the top down. This approach will encourage innovation and teacher engagement.
Testing is a big concern in the deeper learning model and Lichtman, like many other experts in the field, sees the need for better assessments that will more fairly measure student ability under the deeper learning model. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says that people often unfairly oppose Common Core because they see it as promoting high-stakes testing, when in, fact, Weingarten contends that was not the intention. “The standards have come to be associated with testing rather than the deeper learning they were intended to promote,” Weingarten says.
- District Administration 7 steps for schools to provide deeper learning