Learning in Depth: a simple innovation that can transform schooling

The Learning in Depth project (LiD) is designed as an additional contribution schools can make to students’ education. Though relatively simple, it has the potential to make a major impact. The aim is to build knowledge, understanding, skills, and practices fundamental to effective learning.

The basic idea

In the first week of schooling, each student will be randomly assigned a topic to learn in depth. The topics might be such things as “birds,”  “apples,” “the circus,” “railways,” “the Solar system,” etc. Each student will then study his or her assigned topic until grade 12, along with the usual curriculum. Students will meet regularly with their supervising teachers, who will give guidance, suggestions, and help as students build personal portfolios on their topics. The aim is that each student, by the end of her or his schooling, will know as much about that topic as almost anyone on Earth. The project proposes, and draws on what research is available to suggest, that this process of learning in depth has the potential to transform the schooling experience of nearly all children by transforming their relationship to, and understanding of the nature of, knowledge.

Some potential benefits of LiD

    For students: Provides knowledge of some topic in great breadth and depth; Gives a deep understanding of the nature of knowledge; Engages students’ imaginations and emotions in learning; Builds confidence; Builds expertise in use of internet and organizational skills.
    For teachers: Teachers discover along with students; No pressures to grade and assess; Working with enthusiastic learners; Students’ depth knowledge will enrich regular teaching.

For the school: Provides a means for older and younger students to cooperate in learning; Makes the school into a centre of expertise on many topics; Enriches the culture of the school; Displays of topics will provide attractive focus of attention.

This proposal for a new element of the curriculum is based on the belief that learning something in depth will add an important dimension to each person’s education. It is further based on the principle that the more one knows about anything, the more interesting it becomes. (A 4 minute radio news interview, with a student, parent, teacher, and LiD expert can be heard here: http://www.ierg.net/news-items/learning-in-depth-on-cbc-radio).

Imaginative Education Research Group: www.ierg.net/LiD