A Reflection On Five Years Of Learning in Depth (LiD)

By Terri Zolob (K/1 Teacher)

You never know what’s in store when you begin a journey. Perhaps it is a bit of the unknown that intrigues us to take that first step. That first step for me came 5 years ago when, as fate would have it, I met Kieran Egan. It in the cozy library of a gulf island school in British Columbia, Canada, that a fortuitous path was suggested to me; all I had to do was imagine, wonder, and question. I could never have guessed then, that by accepting that simple invitation, the profound effect it would have on both my personal educational journey and that of my teaching practice.

When Kieran first mentioned the idea of LiD (Learning in Depth), he asked if we would humour him and allow him to talk about a ‘radical’ and ‘innovative’ idea that he and his colleagues at the Imaginative Education Research Group were proposing. At the time, it was just being piloted in a few select schools. I was hooked; I had that wonderful ‘ahha’ moment that instantly changes your life and your path’s trajectory. I knew in that instant that LiD was what my teaching heart and soul had been looking for but had not found until that very moment.

Before meeting Kieran, I was toying with the idea of going back to graduate school to get my Masters’ degree. After his brief but impactful visit to our school I knew I had to find out more about LiD and how I could weave this into my Master’s degree and possibly my thesis.

As with any journey you prepare yourself as best you can, but, there will always be those unexpected twists & turns when you must simply trust that what you have learned and know up to that point will enable you to meet those challenges with some success. That was exactly how it was for me when I took my first leap into LiD with my then Grade 2 class. I had no idea what I was really doing, except that I had faith in Kieran’s ‘innovative’ idea, and believed that his passion and expertise in the area of Imaginative Education would be the support I needed.

Together the students and I followed the road map of LiD as Kieran had proposed it. We started with a big celebration with food, family, and friends as the students blindly chose a random topic from our ‘sorting hat’. This topic would become their unique LiD topic that they would learn about for the rest of the school year and possibly longer.

It did not take long before each student’s LiD topic helped to define them and their connection to learning, to each other, and to the joy of learning.

(My Master’s research later showed me that the connection between a child’s LiD topic and their learning identity is the hidden secret behind LiD’s success). After 5 years of ‘doing’ LiD—NOTE: one does not ‘do’ LiD one just offers the possibilities and the students take it wherever their skill sets, questions, and passions lie—it still makes my heart sing.

Each year the students continue to amaze me with their excitement, their inquisitiveness, and the overarching sense of community that LiD creates.

After being away for 4 years, I have been blessed to return back to the school where I originally started my LiD journey. When I arrived several of my past students greeted me with smiles on their faces and 2 questions on their tongues “Do you remember me? And do you remember my LiD topic?” To their amazement, I remembered both. Confirming and reaffirming to me the impact that LiD has on our students’ lives.

This year, marks my 5th year of making LiD available to my students. Together with my kindergarten and grade 1 students, I continue to journey into the world that is LiD—a place filled with wonderings, countless connections, and the joy of discovery. With LiD as your map you never know where you will end up, but the journey will inspire you.

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