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How Does Deeper Learning Prepare Students for the Future?

March 21, 2014 / by Erika Nielsen Andrew


"Deeper Learning captures the nuances, the ideas, and the energy behind an entire effort to fundamentally rethink the most important outcomes in education for the 21st century," notes Tony Wagner, educator and expert-in-residence at Harvard University's New Innovation Lab. He is just one of the many experts, educators, and students we interviewed for our new video series on Deeper Learning. And as he points out, this series demonstrates that a serious movement is taking place in our education system -- one that engages students in a more authentic way, and paves the way for them to truly succeed in the 21st century. College ready? How about innovation ready, where the capacity to innovate, the ability to solve problems creatively, or bring new possibilities to life is far more important than academic knowledge.With information flooding the Internet, television, even our cellphones, classrooms need to move from filling students with ever-changing content to teaching students "how to think." They need to ask the right questions and take initiative. Watch Tony Wagner's introduction here:


The teachers we filmed for this series focus their practice on six Deeper Learning competencies that ensure students develop an understanding of academic content and the skills to apply their knowledge to problems in and out of the classroom. Similar to the Common Core, teaching Deeper Learning skills also foster the development of metacognitive thinking and academic mindsets -- growing students with a profound sense of agency to chart their future. The Deeper Learning competencies are:

  1. Master core academic content
  2. Think critically and solve complex problems
  3. Work collaboratively
  4. Communicate effectively
  5. Learn how to learn
  6. Develop academic mindsets

Read in-depth definitions of each of these competencies here (a PDF from the Hewlett Foundation).


We know many of you are already using engaging and innovative teaching practices in your classrooms. We hope this series shows you that you're not alone in your efforts -- there is a growing movement that is making significant strides in changing the face of education. The exciting programs you’ll see in the series offer insights on how whole systems can support this way of teaching and learning, but all the videos share everyday lessons for any teacher at any school. Look for ideas on project-based learning, implementing personalized learning plans, how to tie classroom work to the real world, ways to assess student learning authentically, and how you can encourage a growth mindset in your students and among your fellow teachers. And we've pulled together this guide for How to Host a Screening. Those who are doubting the Common Core or need a dose of courage to "keep on keeping on" will be inspired by the examples in our new series of Deeper Learning videos.

Topics: Professional Learning, Lesson Planning

Erika Nielsen Andrew

Written by Erika Nielsen Andrew

Erika Nielsen Andrew has been a high school teacher, administrator, coach, researcher, facilitator, network leader, and designer of professional learning in the Bay Area for 27 years before she joined Teaching Channel as our Chief Academic Officer. Follow Erika on Twitter: @thenewready or email her at:

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