In Search of Deeper Learning
The Quest to Remake the American High School
This boldly humanistic book offers a rich account of what education can be. The first panoramic study of American public high schools., In Search of Deeper Learning lays out a new vision for American education—one that will set the agenda for schools of the future. 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. Mehta and Fine reveal that deeper learning is more often the exception than the rule. 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.
“Lucid and engaging… The authors offer lively vignettes, a framework grounded in history and research, and a powerful, precise, and organized critical analysis. Mehta and Fine’s account of a holistic model for cultivating ‘learners ready to meet the challenges of the modern world’ will be as accessible to an intelligent parent as to a school board administrator.”Publishers Weekly
About the Authors:
Jal Mehta is a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research explores the role of different forms of knowledge in tackling major social and political problems, particularly problems of human improvement. He has also written extensively on what it would take to improve American education, with a particular focus on the professionalization of teaching. He is also the winner of the Morningstar Teaching Award at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Sarah Fine left the classroom in 2009, after four years as a teacher, department chair, and instructional coach at a Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy in Washington, D.C., she saw herself becoming an education writer. She had always been drawn to narrative writing, especially after attending Middlebury College’s famed Bread Loaf School of English every summer while she was teaching. Fine also felt there weren’t enough education “insiders” writing about education issues for general-interest audiences. She started writing, getting her pieces on community schools, accountability, and students left behind published in influential publications like The Washington Post and Education Week. She also applied to the Ed School, where she jumped into an ethnographic project with Associate Professor Jal Mehta that would lead to the ultimate achievement for an education writer: her first book. Tentatively titled In Pursuit of Deeper Learning, Fine says the book-in-progress is an attempt “to map the landscape of approaches to engaging high school students in cognitively ambitious tasks.” She and Mehta visited more than 20 schools to see what deeper learning could look like, including San Diego’s High Tech High, which serves as the book’s anchor case study.