Personalized Learning Opinion

Michael Fullan Sees Global Momentum for Deep Learning

By Tom Vander Ark — May 30, 2018 4 min read
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Michael Fullan is Canada’s gift to education. For half a century and with 45 books to his credit, Fullan has been the world’s most persistent and persuasive advocate for powerful learning experiences.

For many of us, Fullan’s 1993 classic Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform outlined the work of education reform.

His 2009 book, The Challenge of Change: Start School Improvement Now!, marked a pivot point to more practical and applied writing.

In 2010, with Peter Senge, Fullan wrote All Systems Go, the first of series of book on whole systems design.

In 2012, Fullan published a brief blended learning tetris, Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge (see 16 must-read quotes).

Describing how everything should work together for teachers and students, Fullan and Joanne Quinn published Coherence in 2015.

With leadership scholar Lyle Kirtman, Fullan published Preparing Education Leaders for Success which outlined seven keys to create and sustain systemic change.

With AASA superintendent of the year Mark Edwards, Fullan published The Power of Unstoppable Momentum.

Also in 2017, Fullan released Deep Learning: Engage the World Change the World. Themes include learning partnerships and environments, shared practices and tools. In April, Fullan led a convening on these topics in Vancouver with an audience representing 1200 schools from seven countries.

This month, Routledge released Fullan’s autobiography, Surreal Change: The Real Life of Transforming Public Education.

On High School

What should high school graduates know and be able to do? Fullan sees 2018 as a transformational year for this question. He laments the fact that it is still easy to get good grades, graduate from high school and not be good at life.

Fullan thinks the focus should be “life readiness” rather than college and career readiness. He thinks it’s the nexus of our time. He points to six Cs, the new global competencies: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.

He’s encouraged by the move away from standardized assessment but admits we’re not very good at certifying the new six Cs. The sector will be in transition while assessment improves.

“Measurement is tricky,” said Fullan. And early solution won’t be universally appealing, but he is pleased that it has become a priority for the OECD. He sees progress in Ontario, British Columbia, and New Zealand. The added benefit of progress is that building better measures drives better practice said Fullan.

Unmistakable Momentum

Fullan is encouraged by the global momentum, “A groundswell underway,” with whole systems adopting deep learning strategies and policies and pushing upward against standardized testing.

“We have 1,200 schools in seven countries doing this, producing students that employers like.”

“We’ll see a lot more progress in the next 12 months,” said Fullan. “It’s qualitatively bigger than anything we’ve seen in 50 years.”

Key Takeaways From the Podcast

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

For more, see:

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The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.