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Learning in Depth (LiD) is a unique program. It is only natural that educators have lots of questions when they hear about it. Most of the questions I receive as a LiD trainer (and former LiD teacher) relate to program principles (I’ve listed a few of these below) and implementation strategies: How do students get their topics? or What is the role of the teacher, administrator or parent in LiD? How do the young, disabled or gifted students do LiD? How can I justify doing a program that is not graded or taught? What happens if a child doesn’t want to do LiD? Can I incorporate LiD into other parts of the curriculum and if so, how? What does sharing learning look like? How do we deal with slumps in the program and keep LiD thriving?
These kinds of questions are fairly easy to address. Not all questions are.
I am also frequently asked questions that are not so simple or straightforward to answer. These difficult questions have to do with beliefs and values:
“Why should/would I …?”
The variations are many: Why would I add another program to my workload? Why should I choose LiD over another program? Why would I do LiD when I have a program that works just fine? Why should I take on the LiD program when I am the only person in the building doing LiD?
Why you do or don’t do any kind of program – including LiD – relates to your beliefs about your role as a teacher, what you value in education and what you are comfortable including in your practice. I have found the best way to address these questions is to share my story and encourage teachers to examine why they might incorporate this simple, yet unique idea in their practice. (A more detailed account of my LiD story can be found on the official LiD website or my website (livinglearningindepth.com).
My LiD Story (Short Version!)
After listening to Dr. Kieran Egan talk about LiD in 2008 I took a long look at why I might take on his latest idea. I ruminated for 2-3 months and asked myself many of the why do this kind of questions people now ask me. I spent time weighing the benefits and the costs.
Benefits of implementing LiD:
- I would be bringing in new, fresh ideas
- I would possibly find better methods for teaching students how to research
- My students may delve deeper into topics
- My students may ask better questions
- I would continue to challenge and hone my teaching skills
Costs of implementing LiD:
- My time and energy to learn how to bring LiD into my world
- Getting permission and enrolling administration
- Enrolling others (parents, colleagues, librarians) into what I was doing
- Enrolling my students into LiD, while learning how NOT to teach LiD
For a long time I had been very dissatisfied with class research projects and I believed LiD might be my answer. The end result of my personal commitment to LiD was: I was willing to give my time and effort to implement a program that just might enhance my student’s learning and ultimately my teaching. Once I knew why I was doing LiD it allowed me to focus on the implementation process with surety. My time and energy had a higher purpose, and the adventure was on.
By the end of the year the benefits of LiD were phenomenal. My 6 to 9 year olds collected, drew, shared, presented and collaborated their way through LiD. They loved LiD time, were more confident and independent in their school activities, but most of all my students asked questions, interesting questions, lots of questions and more complex questions. In one class discussion a child was telling a story and talked about something being funny. When he had finished, one 7 year old girl asked him what kind of funny was he talking about… funny ‘haha” or funny odd? We spent the next 15 minutes discussing the what’s and ways of being funny. Our discussion instigated students into finding jokes, cartoons and funny stories involving their topics.
LiD has far exceeded my expectations and brought my practice to a whole new level, to where the world is now my classroom. I am privileged to discuss LiD with people from all over the world, who are keen to understand and implement LiD. Please contact me if you wish to continue the discussion.
Key LiD Principles
- Not graded
- One topic for one student per class (expert on topic)
- Topics are picked randomly
- Topics were criteria specific
- One topic for one student for school life (no end – no rush)
- Each student is the ‘CEO’ of their topic
- Students share what they learn
- Students have portfolios / journals that move with them from year to year
- Parents play an integral role, so include them
- Most of LiD work will ultimately be done outside of class time
- One hour of LiD time a week provided in school
- Teacher is a guide / consultant / assessor of how the LiD program is doing
Connect with other LiD teachers here on imaginED.