Book Review: “Moving the Rock” by Grant Lichtman

Reading this book is simultaneously inspiring, knowledge-building, frustrating and enlighting. Grant Lichtman’s latest book builds off of his previous #EdJourney, which I have reviewed here before; however, where #EdJourney is focused on examples and the “what” of lighthouse schools, Moving the Rock focuses on action. In fact. Young Zhao (read more HERE) reviewed this book stating that it is

“…an inspiring call to action for all educators”.

You would be interested in this book if you are looking in ways that YOU can engage in shifting education; if you are interested in how tomobilizeothers to engage in change (parents, students, faculty, community partners, etc..); and, you would be interested in this book if you are looking for reasons, examples, and inspiration for the WHY behind educational change.

This books outlines 7 levers that we can press for school school change. Below, I list the title of each of the levers, and I provide a quotation from each chapter that acts as a provocation and inspiration for me to heed that call to action:

1) Create demand for better schools“Today, the supply side of the [education] equation is exploding in terms of differentiated types of “school” driven by changing consumer demands.”

2) Build School-Community learning laboratories
– “Our students and teachers live behind a wall that separates them from the richest fields and veins of learning they will ever encounter: the world around them.”

3) Encourage open access to knowledge
– “…the audacious assumption that the value of teaching lies not in the knowledge itself but in the open and free provision of that knowledge and how to use it.”

4) Fix how we measure student success and admit students to college
– “…In other words, students should be assessed at least as much on how well they can drive as on how well they can take a test about driving.”

5) Teach the teachers what they really need to know
– “Teachers need to learn to retreat from the idea that they have to instruct every facet [every facet of the curriculum]. This requires some flexibility in the curriculum, but that is well within the power of many graduate school educators.”

6) Connect, Flow and Rethinking “School”
– “But the technology that will most fundamentally change education…that will make the cognitosphere not just a system of knowledge access but rich learning is virtual reality.”

7) Lead Change from where you are
– “Although there is no single cookbook recipe for changing schools, we do know this: Schools do not change without effective leaders who understand the why, what and how of change.”

Reading this book allowed me to take a step back and gain perspective on how the work that I am doing harmonizes, finds roots in, and is amplified by the educational change happening elsewhere. For example, my current work on Day 9 is deepened through Lichtman’s Lever #2: Build School-Community Learning Laboratories. 

“If school is meant to prepare our students ofr the world, why do school and the world look and act so differently?”  – Bo Adams

This book reaffirms what it is that we are doing at Cohort 21, and its role in the ecosystem of education. Grant Lichtman offers prompts, and the one that speaks to Cohort 21 is: “Learn how to create a deeper learning experience from your colleagues…in schools around the region.” (pg. 131)  To me, this is what Cohort 21 aspires to.

As I cited above, this book is a call to action. The action that I will take in response to this book is to:

  • 1) Interact more directly with parents to dialogue with them about deeper learning
    2) Research and design best practices for school-community partnerships
    3) Research VR in more detail and work to bring fledgling experiences into our school
    4) Improve my leadership-for-change behaviour: modeling risk for others, empowering middle leadership, explore future pilots, and model a willingness to embrace comfort and lead others outside their comfort zones (pg. 115)

It is through the work of “Moving the Rock” that I have guidance, signposts and examples to work from to explore the above goals, and move the needle. In the spirit of Grant Lichtman: what are you going to change in your practice that will change education away from what we are teaching to how we are learning?


1 thought on “Book Review: “Moving the Rock” by Grant Lichtman

  1. Hi Garth,
    I like your review and just wanted to say that you should keep up with this good work youre doing. So i’ve decided to give it a try and searched for “Moving the Rock” by Grant Lichtman. I found it on from where i was able to buy and i can say that it’s totally awesome. I learned a lot from it. Thank you again for your recommendation.

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