Monday, March 24, 2014

The Promise of Deep Teaching

As I sat with my son this morning editing a social studies assignment related to the brutal murder of Emmett Till in 1955, it was clear to me that we have an obligation to this kind of deep teaching--the kind of teaching that strengthens students' skills, concepts, and knowledge so that they can clearly understand their world, both past and present, and then respond to that world with concise, accurate, and thoughtful communication.

We need a populace that is well educated, knowledgeable, and ready to tackle the problems they will face in life as they build a better world.

While many worry about the Common Core Standards, I must say that I like the way the standards at my level are pushing us to deeper, more comprehensive teaching.  Those standards, along with current researched-based tools and processes related to learning well, have the potential to strengthen all that we do in schools.

The key is to focus on the forward moving aspects of these new initiatives, and not  get caught in the potential webs of inefficiency and wasted time. For example, spending lots of time on specific details related to work that's not deep, or proving points that are not integral to growth, is not positive.  Instead we should be working together to invigorate dynamic work, and streamline efforts that are more procedural and less meaningful when it comes to teaching children well. We can aid our journey in this regard by simply asking the question, "Does this matter when it comes to teaching students well, and does this make a significant difference?," as we relegate time and energy to specific tasks, initiatives, and efforts.

Clear focus on what's important with respect to our collective vision and goals will help us to navigate this busy road in education today--a road that can lead us forward with vigorous and life-changing service to students, the kind of service that limits hateful, unjust acts like Till's murder, and forward life-enriching actions such as beautiful national parks, clean oceans, renewable clean energy, peaceful governments, wonderful schools and more.