I think the answer to that question is yes in most countries these days. In fact, in Norway, it is one of the drivers for changing the content in all our curricula next year.
The Norwegian Parliament decided (2016) on a revision of all subject curricula. The revision involves Primary, Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary Education, including both general and vocational strands in Upper Secondary Education.
One of the aims of the revision is to reduce the content of the curricula, to better allow for students’ in-depth learning and understanding. National Reform.
I just read this article by my friend Dean Shareski “Deep Learning and the Curriculum Disconnect». He starts it with this Tweet.
First some housekeeping. It is easy to be confused when we read articles about this topic and the terminology can be somewhat confusing. We find “in-depth learning”, “deeper learning”, and “deep learning”. In Norway, the English translation is in-depth learning. Harward university has been conducting studies in “Teaching for Deeper Learning“, and Michael Fullan talks about Deep Learning.
The Norwegian government’s definition of deeper learning is:
We define in-depth learning as the gradual development of knowledge and a lasting understanding of concepts, methods and connections in subjects and between disciplines. This means that we reflect on our own learning and use what we have learned in different ways in familiar and unfamiliar situations, alone or with others.
Michael Fullan’ definition is this:
The goals of deep learning are that students will gain the competencies and dispositions that will prepare them to be creative, connected, and collaborative life-long problem solvers and to be healthy, holistic human beings who not only contribute to but also create the common good in today’s knowledge-based, creative, interdependent world. How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning
Either way, you want to go I agree with Dean; The purpose is to change teaching and learning by shifting from a traditional model of mastery to one that creates new knowledge by the learner.
I guess one of the questions Dean asks here is if deep learning should be teacher, student or curricula driven? And how do teachers grade cross-curricular in-depth learning? In our planning who connects the content? The teachers, the students or both? Fewer curriculum goals that are vaguer seem to be the answer in Norway. It gives us more time to work on the goals and it is easier to decide on what the student will be working on and how. My question would be, do we know how to connect the dots? I agree with Dean, this is not an easy road to follow. In my ideal world student draw their own roadmaps with the help of their teachers. Students decide on projects and are able to find the connection between the subjects. I truly believe they can.
While many of these pedagogies are intended to be student-driven, the reality is they are often heavily orchestrated and driven by teachers. I’m not saying that’s bad or that it shouldn’t be used but it’s difficult to call it deep learning. I’m not sure deep learning can occur without full engagement and ownership by the learner. Part of that means that if students own it, it may not align with the curriculum or at least curriculum becomes an afterthought that the teacher may need to reference to determine what alignment exists. In other words, it’s difficult for curriculum to drive this. It matters what we emphasize and what we lead with. Contrast this to the objective-driven classroom where teachers are encouraged to write learning outcomes on the board. Again, not to suggest this is wrong or unnecessary but certainly not deep learning as most definitions state. It seems that in some instances, educators want both the curriculum and deep learning to exist in concert. I’m not sure they can and that may not be a bad thing. Dean Sharsski.
Give up some control. Rarely does deeper learning happen when a teacher spends the entire classroom lecturing from the front of the room, Fine and Mehta found. By allowing students some choice in the topics they explore and the methods they use, teachers can let students see the purpose in their learning and be more engaged. Grace Tatter Harvard Graduate school.