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Getting Smart Podcast

May 30, 2018

Today, The Getting Smart team is super excited to bring you a conversation with Michael Fullan. As Tom would say, Michael is Canada’s gift to education. For half a century and with 45 books to his credit, Michael has been the world’s most persistent and persuasive advocate for powerful learning experiences. Michael is encouraged by the global momentum he sees with whole systems adopting deep learning strategies and policies.


If you’ve been on Getting Smart’s blog recently, you know the team has started a project around rethinking the high school credential — so asking Michael about this topic was an incredible opportunity for the team.


Listen to this episode to hear Tom and Michael discuss the potential for better high school credentials and how the assessment system is changing — moving away from standardized tests and towards global competencies. Michael goes into detail, outlining the signs of progress and describing why he thinks the focus should be “life readiness” rather than college and career readiness. He also talks about the many books he has authored and co-authored and explains his ideas and theories from them and how they’ve shown up in education today.


Key Takeaways:

[:16] About today’s episode with Michael Fullan.

[1:00] Tom welcomes Michael to The Getting Smart podcast!

[1:06] About Michael’s upbringing in Toronto, where he went to high school and college, and where he formed his deep interest in education.

[2:26] About Michael’s most recent book — his autobiography, Surreal Change: The Real Life of Transforming Public Education.

[3:44] How Michael’s book, Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform, influenced Tom as a Superintendent in the 90s, and Michael’s views on his ideas and theories in the book.

[5:05] How The Challenge of Change and All Systems Go were pivot points for Tom.

[5:51] About Tom and Michael’s connection over Stratosphere.

[6:30] More about some of the fantastic books and topics covered by Michael in previous publications.

[8:48] How Michael thinks about the potential for a better high school credential, how the assessment system is changing (moving away from standardized tests), and the concept of global competencies.

[11:56] About the shift from standardized tests to global competencies.

[16:51] How should educators be certifying and helping students communicate their growth, capabilities, and accomplishments to employers and institutes of higher learning?

[22:27] The importance of “life-readiness” and hands-on skills for students.

[24:09] Is Michael interested in microcredentials or badges as a part of a system of communicating capability?

[25:37] Michael’s views on the world’s current shift to deeper learning.

[27:22] Michael’s prediction for the next 12 months.


Mentioned in This Episode:



High Tech High

Surreal Change: The Real Life of Transforming Public Education, by Michael Fullan

Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform, by Michael Fullan

The Challenge of Change: Start School Improvement Now!, by Michael Fullan

All Systems Go: The Change Imperative for Whole System Reform, by Michael Fullan

Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge, by Michael Fullan

The Power of Unstoppable Momentum: Key Drivers to Revolutionize Your District (and Integrate Technology in the Classroom), by Michael Fullan and Mark A. Edwards

Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems, by Michael Fullan

and Joanne Quinn

Deep Learning: Engage the World Change the World, by Michael Fullan, Joanne Quinn,

and Joanne J. McEachen


Want to Visit a Deeper Learning School?

Listen in to The Getting Smart team’s walking tour of Design Tech High:

S3: E25 Building Transferable Skills: Design Tech High At Oracle Campus

For even more on deeper learning, take a look at all of the blog posts on


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Is There Somebody You’ve Been Wanting to Learn From or a Topic You’d Like Covered?

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The Getting Smart team will be sure to add them to their list!