Deep Learning and the Curriculum Disconnect

This post was last updated on 6 months ago at 6 months ago

Disclaimer: I write this knowing I may be off or am missing some perspectives. In other words, it’s why I blog. That’s why comments are open.

Tweeting is easy:

Backing up what you tweet is harder. But tossing out a statement like this I realized that was only right to clarify and expand the thought. The genesis of the tweet comes after seeing many tweets referencing deep learning or similar concepts, I immediately saw the disconnect between devotion to the curriculum and the actualization of deep learning.

The term “deep learning” is rooted in problem-solving, connected learning and personal relevance. I’m not sure if it was coined by Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn but they are certainly the most prominent names around the term. The New Pedagogies for Deep Learning movement has been around for a … Read the rest

What is Expertise Worth?

I’ve been exploring the changing nature of expertise for a while and my thinking continues to evolve.

I recently had two experiences with this that still has me working to better understand my relationship both with my expertise and how I value experts.

I went to see my lawyer to discuss a legal matter. I had done some research ahead of time and thought I knew what the right path was but wanted confirmation and perhaps some insight I hadn’t considered. In the end, I spent $150 for an hour of his time to be more or less reassured that my instincts and research were correct. He helped with clarifying some of the language and specifics but I more or less left with the same information and a little more confidence.

Today I saw a physio-therapist to look at my foot. I had been suffering with what I believed was plantar fasciitis for several months. It was at its height of pain about 6 weeks ago and after doing my research and implementing many of the treatments it was slowly getting better. I had a general physical yesterday and I mentioned my heel pain and he suggested an x-ray … Read the rest

Is it Possible to Focus Too Much On Learning?

It’s pretty hard to argue that there has never been a better time in history to be a learner. Whatever topic you’re interested in, there’s a book, podcast, video series, Instagram account and Facebook group you can join. It’s truly amazing.

As educators, learning is what we live and breathe. We’ve also seen teachers, in particular, begin to identify as learners first, teachers second. The information age is also becoming a learning age.

But recently I’ve come to have some concerns about this, specifically around our own professional learning. Great educators are highly self-aware and recognize that they always could do better. I fall into that category. While I don’t read many educational books, I do consume a great deal of content that I hope makes me a better educator and person. But I think we can easily reach a point when it’s too much and not only too much, might be potentially unhealthy.

Unhealthy? That can’t be right. Learning and trying to be better at what you do and who you seem like how we should be spending our time. This is true but I’ve noticed that for me it can become a very selfish pursuit. I’ve also … Read the rest

And Now for Something Completely Different Part 2

Eight years ago I wrote this. Starting today, I’ll be on to something different as my time with Discovery Education comes to a close.

I recall eight years ago people questioning if I should leave a great job in a school district to give up a pension to work for a for-profit company that is certainly much less secure. I don’t regret it for a minute. It has been eight years full of joy and learning and so much more.

My duties were many and varied. I hated being asked “what do you do” as it didn’t fit in any box. When I said I helped build community, it usually required lengthy follow-up and context. The easiest thing to explain to people was that I did a lot of speaking. My rough estimates would suggest I presented at over 120 conferences and events to well over 50,000 people. But beyond that, I spent time in districts and classrooms supporting them in their daily work. I helped create content and even helped with sales. All these experiences have helped me understand the complexities and challenges of running a business as well as running a school district. I spent time with … Read the rest

Be Less Helpful or Be More Grandparent

Dan Meyer talked about “being less helpful” in his 2010 Ted Talk and has resonated with many since. Essentially the idea of allowing students to learn and struggle within interesting, useful problems. On the surface, this sounds simple but the reality is most of us, whether we’re teachers or parents or leaders of any kind often resort to providing answers, or highly structured supports in order to see children and learners succeed. In many respects, this is the greatest challenge we face as educators. 


While I don’t think I’ve ever written about it here (confession: I honestly have written much about anything lately) becoming a grandfather has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I’ve said many times since that if you can bypass the children part and go right to grandparenting, I would highly recommend that! While the benefits are many, one of them is that I have fresh eyes when it comes to how humans learn. As a parent, I probably missed much of this because of the overwhelming feeling of responsibility you have. As a grandparent, I reap all the benefits of parenting but very few of the challenges. 

This quote by Urie … Read the rest