by Agustina Lacarte
I’ve recently read an article about education and I came across a sentence that caught my attention. It said, “the future will belong to those who are adaptable and able to apply (transfer) their learning to new situations, because the future requires deep learning” (McTighe & Silver, 2020).
Think about it. Knowledge is expanding faster than ever. Information is available anytime, anywhere. Children don’t need to memorize huge amounts of information anymore. Instead, they need to know how to deal with that information, how to look it up, discern between fake and non-fake news. Ultimately, they need to learn skills and attitudes. So, how do we achieve this? Well, deep learning requires two main things: “uncovering the big ideas within the content” and framing lessons around “essential questions”.
Concepts are big and complex ideas that lie behind the theme. It changes the way teachers and students approach learning because it develops a culture of thinking. Let’s see an example. A traditional class teacher would choose a topic, such as the Romans and the Greeks. Topics narrow the perspective, since students only learn about a very specific time in the past without making any further connections.
However, learning would be different through Concept-Based Inquiry because there would be no topic, instead, students would be learning about a wider idea: “Who we are.” Through this big idea, they would be exploring two concepts: change and connection, and the related concepts of identity and society. With these ideas in mind, students would explore the following essential questions:
- Where do we come from?
- Where does where we live influence how we live?
- What do the archaeological discoveries tell us about the past?
- How have civilization changed over time?
- How are we connected to the past?
- How are we connected to each other?
This kind of education empowers young people for a lifetime of learning, independently and in collaboration with others, to become critical thinkers, which is an essential ability required for the 21st century.