“Learning in Depth” is a simple though radical innovation in curriculum and instruction designed to ensure that all students become experts about something during their school years. Each child is given a particular topic to learn about through her or his whole school career, in addition to the usual curriculum, and builds a personal portfolio on the topic. To the surprise of many, children usually take to the program with great enthusiasm, and within a few months LiD begins to transform their experience as learners. The program usually takes about an hour a week, with the students working outside school time increasingly.
Learning in Depth (LiD) is an unusual program and tends, after the first simple description, to elicit enthusiasm from some people and hesitation from others. While the basic idea is quite simple, we think the potential implications of the program for students, teachers, and schools are profound.
In most of our literature we suggest beginning LiD as children start school. This is the ideal, but not always possible for many teachers. If you teach grade 6, for example, and are attracted by LiD, there is no reason not to start then. At the moment there are LiD programs beginning in all grades in some schools somewhere, even grade 12.
“If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has, at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.”
Letter from a parent:
“My son was introduced to Learning in Depth by his teacher in his grade two year. When the project first began, a letter came home explaining Learning in Depth. I must admit, I did not give it much notice. As they studied their topics I began to realize that my son was commanding my attention with a new excitement in his voice. I couldn’t help but be amazed by the conversations . . . I was astounded by what he knew and how he was able to articulate this knowledge with such confidence . . . . He is in grade four this year and I know that Learning in Depth has aided in his extreme ability to comprehend new knowledge. I believe that because he was allowed to explore information about a topic . . . he became aware of his own ability to understand . . . My son’s maturity level has grown tremendously. He has gained patience and takes pride in his work. He explains his thoughts and ideas with ease and clarity. He never feels overwhelmed by school and welcomes homework responsibly. He is truly content and happy with his progress. I feel so fortunate to have been witness to my child experiencing this program and I am convinced that he has benefited beyond his capabilities.
Sincerely, Nicole Clydesdale.”
What students say about LiD
“I wish that every Wednesday would come really fast so that LiD day would come sooner. And that the days of the week would only slow down when I was having a really good time or on LiD day.”
“I think LiD is very interesting because you are the only one that is doing a topic about something. In the class you are able to tell your classmates about your topic. The best thing about learning in depth is that you’re a professional at that topic.”
“Learning in Depth is definitely something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life. It’s so exciting because you never know what you will learn. It’s always surprising.”
“LiD has changed my children!!! They became interested in discovering knowledge, sharing it and organizing it. Their topic became a very close part of their lives. In the two years since their school adopted this program, my children learned how to love learning!”
“I have never experienced the kind of questions and interactions I now have with my students . . . I have never experienced these kinds of conversations with children.”
“The Learning in Depth project has brought to our students a completely new relationship to learning that has been surprising in its depth and quality.”