Difference Making at the Heart of Learning
Students, Schools, and Communities Alive With Possibility
Foreword by Larry Rosenstock
Your students will change the world!
Today’s learners know they face a complex future. They yearn to live in a world where people are working with purpose, leading with character and making a difference. Learning to identify problems and use smart tools to develop meaningful solutions will help them make a difference in their families, their communities and for society.
They need your help. This inspirational, yet practical guide shows educators how to build on students’ own talents and interests to develop their desire for a better world, entrepreneurial mindset and personal leadership skills. Features include:
- New learning priorities centered around making a difference
- A framework based on the 25 most important issues of our time
- Examples and case studies from a diverse range of projects, people, and places
A clarion call for helping students build purpose, passions, and how they will contribute into schooling, which is critical if we are to enable all children to fulfill their human potential--and our societal possibilities.
Michael B. Horn
Co-founder, Clayton Christenson Institute for Disruptive Innovation
Author, Choosing College and Blended
Vander Ark and Liebtag prove that the future of learning already is with us. It just happens to be scattered. Read this compelling and inspiring account of how ‘difference making and learning’ is at the heart of human purpose, and ask yourself what you can do in your own community to make learning have new and deep meaning. There has never been a time where our combined effort to change the fundamental of learning is so urgently needed.
Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto
Difference Making at The Heart of Learning beautifully illustrates an educational vision that is simply common sense: If we want to improve the world, we must put that mission at the heart of the learning experience. When students are getting smart to do good for others, they care more, they work harder, and they become better human beings. This book shares inspiring examples from schools and systems all over the world that connect academic learning to civic contribution and the development of ethical character. What could be more important?
Chief Academic Officer, EL Education
In a time crisis, Vander Ark and Liebtag’s latest book poses an urgent question: 'What if learning experiences were focused on making a difference in the world?' The book profiles more than 50 schools where students seek to find the difference they want to make and acquire the skills and knowledge they need along the way. Much more than a powerful call to action, this book represents a turning point in how we think about the purpose of education.
Best-selling author, The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators
Education is on a journey of transformation and for the past decade Tom VanderArk and Emily Liebtag have been two of the very best guides. In their new book, they offer ‘creating difference makers’ as a meaningful vision for the future of education and in doing so not only provide a valuable roadmap but a powerful destination.
?Ken Kay, Co-founder, P21 and Edleader21
?Co-author, The Leaders Guide to 21st Century Education and Bold Moves for 21st Century Leaders
From global pandemics to income inequality, the world faces unprecedented challenges. Today’s students may be ones to find a better way forward—but only if they develop their potential as problem solvers and change makers. In this book, Tom Vander Ark and Emily Liebtag share a hopeful and timely message about what school can be when the focus shifts from content coverage to leadership, problem solving, and community connections. Plentiful examples from diverse contexts show young people learning by stepping up, taking action, making a difference.
Project-based learning advocate
Author, All Together Now: How to Engage Your Stakeholders in Reimagining School
We all know that the current way of doing school needs an overhaul. This book provides inspiring examples and a compelling vision to put student contribution at the heart of learning. What a refreshing read!
Julie H. Stern
Co-founder, Education to Save the World
Author, Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding and Visible Learning for Social Studies
We too often focus solely on the what and hows of school; Difference Making at the Heart speaks to our collective WHY for school and community. It’s equal parts inspiration to effect change and an actionable playbook to make a difference. Even reading by myself, I felt connected and bonded; I felt the urgent call to action and I felt surrounded by others feeling the same.
Grant Knowles, Innovation Coordinator
Hamilton County Schools
Sample Materials & Chapters
Chapter 2: We Thrive by Contributing