I am saddened to hear tonight of the passing of the inimitable Grant Wiggins, which occurred yesterday according to tweets from his wife and daughter as well as from this post from ASCD.
Grant is one of the most influential educators I have learned from in my 30 year career. I had the honor of meeting him a number of times in my involvement with NHASCD as we brought him in as a speaker often through the years. Of course, he is best known as the author of Understanding My Design with his good friend and colleague Jay McTighe. But he was also an expert on assessment as his book Educative Assessment changed the way many of us looked at formative assessment.
Despite being a modern day John Dewey for many of us, he was always kind and considerate, never leaning on his renown. Every learner in his workshops was equally important. At our conferences he willingly took his lunchtime to dine with our NHASCD Student Chapter pre-service teachers. When I interviewed him for our newsletter or simply chatted during a break, he would speak more about his son’s rock band and what guitars Grant himself loved to play. I think he was more excited about his own band (and his son’s) than even his educational work.
He and Jay moved easily with the times. Grant was able to integrate the great work of UbD and link it with the advent of the Common Core State Standards without missing a beat…and without it appearing that he was simply profiting on trends. Their book Schooling By Design took the ideas of UbD and applied them to a school or district curriculum model.
Lately, his blog became a major mouthpiece for his views. His last post from May 25 (just two days before his death) was a response to a Washington Post article on reading comprehension which he disagreed with. In typical Grant fashion, he always did extensive research before writing.
Recently I had a conversation over dinner with fellow NHASCD Board Member and QED Foundation‘s Kim Carter all about Grant’s contribution to our own careers. We talked about how practical his work was while maintaining a theoretical base and legitimacy. While Grant could be esoteric, he was always a teacher first and laser focused on improving instruction.
We’re going to miss you Grant.