There is no question that the American education system is in crisis. There is a significant risk that the mainstream school system will cheat children out of some – if not all – of the education they deserve because a pervasive, hidden curriculum utterly fails to support the well-being of students and educators. Students are expected to act like data-processing machines, but real human beings do not act like machines. In his groundbreaking book Schooling for Holistic Equity, Don Berg explores the reasons for current high levels of student and teacher disengagement, the disconnect between educational goals and results, and the “fauxachievement” and shallow learning that prove woefully inadequate in preparing students for higher education or the workforce.
A psychologist with more than twenty years of experience in education, Berg lays out the foundation for a scientific understanding of deeper learning grounded in Self-Determination Theory and the primary human needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. He shows how the central problem in our schools has less to do with academic instruction and more to do with the psychology of learning. His model for educational design, called Catalytic Pedagogy, is a comprehensive plan to bring about large-scale, systems-level change.
Psychological research shows us how to engage and motivate people, and recognizing human needs provides us with the exact guidance necessary to proceed as effective learners and teachers. Schools should be – and can be – joyful places where passionate teachers teach enthusiastic students. It’s time for a transformation in education, and Berg’s trailblazing model shows us the way.
Through the lens of psychology Don Berg’s book, Schooling for Holistic Equity, looks at the present day education system and simplifies what seems like an insurmountable problem. How do we problem-solve ram- pant disengagement amongst not only the students but the staff as well? His resolution to include psychological expertise at all levels, from policymakers to teachers is a simple, yet effective answer. Afterall, if our goal is to make all things equitable in the classroom, should not mental health be included? His research builds upon others to show that excitement around learning leads to a deeper understanding of topics, and this is only achieved if all involved feel the type of connection he describes.
Don Berg’s book Schooling for Holistic Equity: How to Manage the Hidden Curriculum in K-12 speaks to the need for every child to engage in learning that matters to them, find belonging, and know they can make a contribution. To have this kind of education be available for every child will be no easy feat. And, Don offers an important message we need to hear over and over again—education transformation is possible.
As a deep learning advocate and a parent of a homeschool family, Don Berg’s new book, Schooling for Holistic Equity, How to Manage the Hidden Curriculum in K-12, resonates with me powerfully. In this book, Don diagnosed the disengagement problem widely experienced by students and teachers alike in the US schools from the perspective of psychology and human primary needs, and maintained that deeper learning only comes when students’ primary needs are nurtured and met. His point was richly and convincingly illustrated using examples from multiple areas of disciplines such as Psychology, Medicine, and Physics. Grounded in profound knowledge in psychology and educa- tion, and supported by practical evidence and suggestions, this ground- breaking book is a must read for all educators, policy makers, college education majors and parents with school aged children.