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In Memoriam: Grant Wiggins

I was shocked and saddened at the sudden passing of renowned educator Grant Wiggins earlier this week.

I can’t say that I knew Grant well, but I felt like I did.  Through his prolific blogging and tweeting, Grant shared his philosophies, passions, and provocations with me and thousands of others on a regular basis.  And, of course, Understanding by Design has made a real impact on education.

Grant had strong opinions about teaching and learning, which were rooted in a lifetime of experience in schools and classrooms all over the world.   He reveled in being provocative, in challenging teachers about what they do and why they do it.  But he did so in a way that demonstrated a great respect for the work of teachers and students.

Grant argued publicly and passionately for reforming education.  The word “reform” carries a lot of negativity these days, but I came to understand that Grant’s notions of reform were not political:  they were genuinely about teaching, learning, schooling, and student experience.  And they were directly connected to both research and practice.  While I didn’t always agree with his positions and prescriptions, I always learned by listening, and I always went away thinking and reflecting more deeply about my own views.

I feel fortunate to have had some opportunities to interact with him personally, through our blog-exchanges, and via email and Twitter.  I learned a lot by talking and arguing with him, and can honestly say he has had a significant impact on me as a teacher.  Even today, I’m still mentally drafting responses to things he wrote or said.

He will be missed, both personally and professionally.  His spirit will continue to influence what I do and how I do it, and for that I will be forever grateful.  I’m sure many others feel the same.

A memorial for Grant Wiggins can be found at AuthenticEducation.org.

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