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Getting Smart Podcast

Jun 12, 2019

Today, Tom Vander Ark has a conversation with Dr. Jal Mehta! Dr. Mehta grew up in Baltimore and is the son of a school administrator and a college professor. Now, as an Assistant Professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Mehta is a leading advocate for deeper learning. Dr. Mehta appreciated that his mentor, Richard Elmore, was always a knowledgeable person in the room because he spent time in schools every week. Dr. Mehta followed suit, and visited the best high schools in the country and co-authored a new book, In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School.


In today’s conversation, Dr. Jal Mehta shares his observations and expertise with Tom from the many schools he has visited. He also gives examples of powerful deeper learning in the primary grades, middle school, and high school.


Key Takeaways:

[:14] About today’s episode.

[1:00] Tom welcomes Dr. Jal Mehta to the podcast.

[1:08] About Mehta’s upbringing and early education.

[4:06] Dr. Mehta speaks about his mentor, Richard Elmore, and what led him to spend time in other schools.

[6:05] How the hundreds of years of tradition in schools have impacted education today.

[9:09] What powerful deeper learning looks like in primary grades.

[12:15] What powerful deeper learning looks like in middle school.

[14:18] What powerful deeper learning looks like in high school. Dr. Mehta also gives some of his favorite examples he has seen.

[18:11] Should we have discipline-based courses? Is that still the best way to organize high school?

[25:48] Is Dr. Mehta optimistic about the new exercises being built around what graduates should know and be able to do (AKA a ‘portrait of a graduate’)?

[28:00] Tom gives his take on the ‘portrait of a graduate’ processes.

[28:56] Tom and Dr. Mehta discuss how communities need to choose the way in which they work together with other people to build new learning experiences and new learning organizations.

[32:57] Dr. Mehta gives his advice on visiting schools; how to pick them and how to learn as much as you can when you visit them.

[37:00] Did Dr. Mehta leave this anthropological project of his optimistic about the direction of the American high school?


Mentioned in This Episode:

In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School, by Jal Mehta
and Sarah Fine

Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks For Smarter Personalized and Project Based Learning, by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns

No Child Left Behind Act

4.0 Schools

The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling, by Jal Mehta


For More on Deeper Learning, Check Out:

Episode 187 with Jemar Lee, a graduate from the Iowa BIG; or Episode 163 about designing from scratch for timeless learning with Pam Moran!


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