Trending: College Knowledge

ImageDavid Conley, best known for his 2008 book College Knowledge, is back on the top of our reading lists with his recently published Getting Ready for College, Careers and the Common Core: What Every Educator Needs to Know (catchy title Mr. Conley!).

The premise for Conley’s book lies in this assertion he makes in the introduction:

“The US economy continues to reinvent itself at a rapid pace.  This process is driving changes in the very nature and organization of work that will require new skills, but also a new definition of what it means to be ready to succeed in this dynamic environment.”  

To meet the challenges of constantly changing world, Conley states students need four keys:

  • Key cognitive strategies (“the ways which students approach complex problems or challenging tasks;” “how students process information and gain greater meaning and value from it”)
  • Key content knowledge (“foundational content and big ideas from core subjects that all students must know well, and to understand the big ideas in core subject areas that enable students to gain insight into and retain what they are learning”)
  • Key Learning Skills and Techniques (student ownership of the learning including goal setting, persistence, self-awareness, self-efficacy & specific learning techniques including time management, collaborative learning and technology).
  • Key Transitional Knowledge & Skills (specific skills & knowledge students need to have to successfully transition into college or career e.g. knowledge of financial aid systems or work place expectations).  

For students to gain these keys, Conley advocates what calls a shift to “deeper learning.”   

This means that students need to “understand underlying principles of what they are studying if they are are to apply these to new and novel situations beyond the structured opportunities to practice that they are provided in class.  They need to understand the nature and types of problems they will encounter in the subject area, the solution strategies and options available to them, and how they two interact with one another.  In other words they need to develop the metacognitive skills necessary to make decisions about how to process what they are learning, and eventually, how to draw on their understanding of content they have learned and the problem-solving techniques available to them to address challenges or complex tasks that are entirely outside the boundaries of what they have practiced previously.”

This books reminded me of something really exciting:  when it comes to describing what a 21st century classroom needs to look like, the experts pretty much agree.  

The challenge for us as educators is figuring out to make that vision a reality.  That’s our work, but you have to admit it’s inspiring work.


Have a great Monday.  

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