Why is Deeper Learning Important?

To succeed in the future, students will need to know how to analyze, collaborate, and innovate. But our education system isn't as effective at preparing them as it could be.

We live in a world that is changing—and changing quickly. People and goods move around the world with unprecedented ease. The rapid advance of technology means that televisions, computers, and cell phones consume more than seven hours of the average American child’s day. Signs of our digital connectivity are all around us: every month, 100 billion searches are performed on Google. Every two years, the amount of digital information more than doubles. What is novel and revolutionary today is quickly outdated.

What does this mean for students?

Today’s college students can enroll in majors that didn’t exist a few short years ago in fields like biomedical engineering or nanotechnology. Experts predict that nearly two-thirds of today’s elementary school students will one day hold a job that hasn’t been created yet.

These changes pose important questions for education. How well will U.S. students be able to use the information and technology at their fingertips, interpret the world around them, and adapt so that they can thrive in such a quickly changing environment? How well are we preparing them for a world that will look dramatically different when they graduate from high school?

The United States used to lead the world in education. Now, other countries are becoming more effective at preparing their students for the twenty-first century, while our schools lag behind. According to the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, U.S. students rank 14th in reading, 25th in mathematics, and 17th in science. Students from middle-class backgrounds as well as low-income backgrounds are far behind their international peers. The United States once had a higher percentage of young adults with college degrees than any other country around the world. Now, we’re ranked 12th.

Our students need a better education, one that gives them what they need to succeed.