“The best book on high school dynamics I have ever read.”—Jay Mathews, The Washington Post
An award-winning professor and an accomplished educator take us beyond the hype of reform and inside some of America’s most innovative classrooms to show what is working—and what isn’t—in our schools.
What would it take to transform industrial-era schools into modern organizations capable of supporting deep learning for all? Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine’s quest to answer this question took them inside some of America’s most innovative schools and classrooms—places where educators are rethinking both what and how students should learn.
The story they tell is alternately discouraging and hopeful. Drawing on hundreds of hours of observations and interviews at thirty different schools, Mehta and Fine reveal that deeper learning is more often the exception than the rule. And yet they find pockets of powerful learning at almost every school, often in electives and extracurriculars as well as in a few mold-breaking academic courses. These spaces achieve depth, the authors argue, because they emphasize purpose and choice, cultivate community, and draw on powerful traditions of apprenticeship. These outliers suggest that it is difficult but possible for schools and classrooms to achieve the integrations that support deep learning: rigor with joy, precision with play, mastery with identity and creativity.
This boldly humanistic book offers a rich account of what education can be. The first panoramic study of American public high schools since the 1980s, In Search of Deeper Learning lays out a new vision for American education—one that will set the agenda for schools of the future.