Have you had a chance to read Jal Mehta’s piece in Ed Week, “Why Equity Has Been a Conservative Force in American Education—And How That Could Change”? If you haven’t, you should.
Mehta argues that “the effort to close achievement gaps has in practice doubled down on the century-old industrial model of schooling, leaving in place all of the essential elements of its grammar: teaching as transmission, batch processing of students, conventional assessments, tracking and leveling, and all of the rest. Anything that moves away from those assumptions—like project-based learning, problem-based learning, interdisciplinary learning, authentic assessment, or constructivist pedagogy—is seen as ‘risky;’ something that is ‘OK for the privileged kids’ but somehow distracts from the real work of closing achievement gaps on state-sponsored tests.”
We at Envision Learning Partners see deeper learning not as a risk but as a moral imperative, not only because all children deserve it, but also because it’s the right way to make change. I agree with Mehta’s notion of “liberatory design,” which “assumes that teachers and students would like to develop engaging, meaningful learning experiences, and that the problem is not them but the institutional structures and culture of schools that constrains them.” I am fortunate to witness proof of this regularly in my work when, for example, I see the excitement among students and teachers who have designed and implemented a portfolio-defense system.
The teachers and leaders who reach out to partner with ELP have drawn similar conclusions about deeper learning. We are proud to serve their schools and districts, and we are always inspired by their courage to do this work.
Justin Wells, ELP Executive Director