Jay McTighe and “Schooling By Design”


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. 

He recently spent time presenting workshops in Singapore and commented to me how teachers’ level of pay and respect there far exceeds the norm in the US. In fact, while our standard of living is higher in the states, comparatively speaking, teachers in Singapore earn salary similar to their nation’s doctors and lawyers. 
One of the great advantages of UbD and likewise SbD is that in a world of high stakes testing and No Child Left Behind, the curricular and instructional organization that comes from his model can really reduce the frenzied nature of our schools. Jay shared with me how we can slow down the pace and be so much 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. 

Much more of this interview will be included in NHASCD’s newsletter coming out soon. You want to be a member of our organization? Shoot me an email.
2 comments Add yours
  1. Time for reflection and being able to envision the bigger picture is key in all industries, but none more important that education.

  2. Amen! Thank you for your comment Laurie. I often say that in my job I have to balance “keeping the trains running on time” and working on vision. As time has gone on, the “trains” are gaining on the vision I’m afraid. Somehow we all have to carve time out to capture the big picture.

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