As part of my role as a Board member for the NH chapter of ASCD, I had the honor last month of interviewing well known educational writer and speaker Jay McTighe, co-author with Grant Wiggins of Understanding By Design (UbD). He spoke as part of our NHASCD conference series. Jay and Grant’s latest work is entitled Schooling By Design (SbD) which brings UBD into a more systemic, school and district based view. I have always found Jay to be a humble, articulate teacher with a vision for what makes schools more effective.
Yes, we can get sidetracked by the world. A friend of mine who has been a mentor to me has all of these sort of aphorisms. (By the way, it’s Frank Lyman who is the creator of “think,pair, share” in the 1960s.) One of his aphorisms is “schools are like the intellectual rock and roll dance of death. It’s frenzied.” We need to slow down and have some minuets. Schools get so frantic, unreflective, and wild. We have to slow down and be clear about what we’re doing and be able to reflect on it. In a sense, UbD helps to do that and give you clear focus and priorities. For instance, “here are three essential questions for the next six weeks guys. This is what we’re focusing on”, you put them on the wall and we’re going to come back to them.
We have to slow down and have some minuets. Perhaps that’s a good metaphor for life and certainly for our schools.