The Blog Is Ending, But Deeper-Learning Work Goes On
This post is by Robert Rothman and Jal Mehta
When we began the Learning Deeply blog in February 2014, we stated that the goal was not to argue the case for deeper learning but rather to "discuss what it looks like at the practice and policy levels and to challenge one another's thinking about instructional change." More than 500 posts later, we believe we have more than accomplished this goal. As we retire this blog, we are confident that the thinking about how to deepen students' learning has advanced considerably in the past five years.
During this time, we have presented the views of students, teachers, and school leaders, as well as professional developers, reform supporters, researchers, and policymakers. As we expected—and hoped would happen—the contributors did not always agree with one another. We did not intend to present an orthodoxy, and we believe we have succeeded.
In fact, some of our most widely viewed posts have challenged conventional wisdom. The most-viewed, with more than 26,000 page views, was Ron Berger's post that questioned one of the most venerable concepts in educational psychology—Bloom's taxonomy. Another was one of Jal's that pointed out an uncomfortable truth about the deeper-learning movement itself: Its race problem. That post has been viewed just about every month since it was originally written in June 2014.
To us, these challenges are signs of a healthy movement. And indeed, as we look over the landscape, we see many positive signs. The research base for deeper learning is stronger, and deeper learning is beginning to be embedded in state policy. And as we have seen on the blog, other countries are taking up the mantle as well.
Yet national and international assessments continue to show that too few students are able to demonstrate that they can use their knowledge to think critically, communicate effectively, and collaborate with peers. And, disturbingly, there are wide racial and ethnic gaps in learning. Equity, the reason many of our contributors have committed themselves to pursuing paths to deeper learning, remains elusive.
There are many reasons why deeper learning has not yet been implemented on a large scale. Jal pointed out some of them in his most recent post. Deep, meaningful change in education, particularly change that affects what Richard F. Elmore calls the "instructional core," is very, very difficult.
We remain optimistic. The need for all students to learn deeply has only increased since we started this blog, and it will not go away. And there are many more ideas about practical steps that teachers, schools, districts, and states can take to bring about the changes that are necessary. We are proud to have contributed to that literature through this blog.
We want to thank each and every contributor to Learning Deeply. And we are happy to report that their work will live on: All the posts will be archived, so that they will continue to show up on Google searches and by other means. We hope that the authors will continue to find additional outlets for their ideas.
We particularly want to thank the readers of this blog. We hope that the ideas we presented stimulated your thoughts and helped you advance your own work. We hope to meet you again on this journey.