New Mexico Needs to Embrace Deeper Learning
posted on December 16, 2017 by Justin Trager
“Deeper Learning is a fresh perspective in an educational climate that has standardized instruction and learning in New Mexico; an emphasis that has not served our students and families well.” – Justin Trager
Last month, I had the honor of being chosen for the second cohort of the Deeper Learning Equity Fellows. The Deeper Learning Equity Fellows is a cohort-based leadership program that aims to develop, strengthen, and sustain a group of diverse and exceptional leaders who will influence the policies and practices that expand access to Deeper Learning in public education across the country.
Deeper Learning is a relatively new term that broadly represents educational practices grounded in Constructivism and Progressive education’s commitment to teaching academic content to create new knowledge and solve problems in the classroom and the community. While it is grounded in a strong commitment to mastering core academics, Deeper Learning emphasizes a student’s need to be self-directed, use critical thinking skills, and to collaborate with other students and community members. Deeper Learning is a fresh perspective in an educational climate that has standardized instruction and learning in New Mexico; an emphasis that has not served our students and families well.
We need to work together to create a public education that engages, empowers, and liberates students…
In this atmosphere of high stakes testing, New Mexico’s public school students, especially students of color, immigrant youth, English language learners, and youth in poverty are being limited and marginalized in a narrow approach to education and learning. We need to work together to create a public education that engages, empowers, and liberates students to use creative thinking and multi-disciplinary content skills to analyze complex open-ended questions and apply what they are learning in meaningful ways. This is the education and learning that is necessary for future success in college, careers, and community leadership.
Carlos Moreno, Co-Director of the Fellowship and Co-Executive Director of Big Picture Learning said, “We knew going into this work that all students could benefit from Deeper Learning practices and instruction–in which learners are constantly motivated and challenged and are able to apply their learning to real life and real experiences… However, we also know that equitable access to such opportunities is not always available to traditionally underserved populations…”
The Leadership High Schools are already committed to and are practicing high levels of Deeper Learning. Last year, Senior capstone students at ACE Leadership HS used language arts skills, design literacy, construction math, and environmental sciences to propose school designs that aligned with the unique needs of students and families at the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy. Students at Health Leadership HS used research, English Language Arts, Spanish, and critical thinking skills to answer the question “How can parents create low cost learning opportunities for children under age 3?” Then, they created bilingual, developmentally appropriate, early childhood play starter boxes that are being used by a community health home visiting program. This year, the Center is continuing to search for new ways to engage students using Deeper Learning principles.
This fellowship will provide me with learning to support quality practice of the existing work as well as expand the practice. As part of my learning as a Fellow, I will be blogging here about how New Mexico can embrace Deeper Learning to improve the educational outcomes we all want for our children and community.