The Quest To Remake The American High School

May 3, 2019

Jal Mehta is Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he has received the Morningstar Award, presented annually to the best teacher at the school. He is author of "The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling."

With Sarah Fine he has co-authored a new book entitled "In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School."

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.