What I learned from Grant Wiggins …

By now everyone in the education world has learned of Grant Wiggins’ untimely death. I echo the sentiments of all who knew him or his work: this is a great loss to our field.

I joined the consultant group at Authentic Education last year. My “interview” with Grant and his wife Denise, took place in their sunny Lambertville kitchen. We chatted about education philosophies and Grant questioned me on my background, understanding of UbD, my current work and goals. After a pleasant conversation, he said, “Good, great, we’ll get you to work as soon as we can.” I expressed some surprise, “That’s it? There isn’t more you need to know?” With that characteristic twinkle in his eye, he responded, “What– should I keep asking you questions even when I’m satisfied that I understand your capabilities?”

So I laughed … there it was, Grant’s philosophy as a case-in-point. There’s no need to continue testing once you have sufficient information about mastery. Grant taught me, so clearly, that assessment is a necessary and valuable part of the learning process — but we want tests to be meaningful, authentic, and we don’t test just for the sake of testing!

I had hoped to learn more from you, Grant. Thankfully you’ve left a body of work for us to to draw on as we continue your efforts. Vale.

Recently found … 05/22/2015 (a.m.)

  • tags: education reform learning

    • Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.


      Since the Industrial Revolution, the world has developed complex supply chains, from designers to manufacturers, from distributors to importers, wholesalers and retailers, it’s what allowed billions of products to be made, shipped, bought and enjoyed in all corners of the world. In recent times  the power of the Internet, especially the mobile phone, has unleashed a movement that’s rapidly destroying these layers and moving power to new places.


      The Internet is the most powerful mechanism we can imagine to match perfectly individuals that need something, and people with something to offer.

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Try Some PISA Questions …

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. Try your hand at some of the questions here. Some of them might surprise you. Are we preparing our students for these kinds of tests?



What do you do when you come to a hurdle? You jump.

How much do I love Neal de Grasse Tyson’s response to a young girl’s question: Do you know scientists who are dyslexic? So much …

Tyson doesn’t just say “yes,” he explains that he knows many scientists with issues — but that those are not barriers to their success as scientists. His response reflects a critical aspect of learning: mindset. Dyslexia (or dyscalculia, autism, ADD, etc.) will not prevent your success if you believe in yourself and give yourself time to learn.