#64 – In Search of Deeper Learning

Unpleasant Truth about Education #47: Kids learn more deeply in school when participating in extracurriculars than they do when being taught in classrooms.

That’s one of the many provocative conclusions drawn by authors Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine in their book In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School. It’s a fascinating in-depth look at how learning happens at three very different schools in the U.S., and it’s also a primer on what we can do to bring more authentic learning opportunities to students on a regular basis.

In this hour long podcast, we talk about what deep learning actually is, what some of the barriers are to making it happen within the traditional school structures and systems, how teachers and leaders can reframe their practice, and why it is that more powerful learning conditions are easier for some teachers to create than others.

Here’s a quote from the book to whet your appetite:

In the spaces that teachers, students, and our own observations identified as the most compelling, students had opportunities to develop knowledge and skill (mastery), they came to see their core selves as vitally connected to what they were learning and doing (identity), and they had opportunities to enact their learning by producing something rather than simply receiving knowledge (creativity). Often these spaces or classrooms were governed by a logic of apprenticeship; students had opportunities to make things (newspapers, collections of poetry, documentary films, theater productions, debate performances) under the supervision of faculty and / or older students who would model the creative steps involved, provide examples of high-quality work, and offer precise feedback. Not coincidentally, the most successful teachers and extracurricular leaders whom we encountered had themselves been apprenticed into their fields in a similar way—and these experiences had helped them develop a stance about what they were doing that differed from the “teaching as transmission” view that was so prevalent (Kindle 6-7).


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Will Richardson

Co-founder of Modernlearners.com and Change School. Author, speaker, instigator, surfcaster, husband, and father to two amazing young adults.

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