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Learning in Depth: A Simple Innovation that can Transform Schooling

by Kieran Egan University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
02/2011
ISBN:
9780226190433
Format:
Hbk 232 pages
Price:
AU$59.99 NZ$63.47
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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For generations, schools have aimed to introduce students to a broad range of topics through curricula that ensure that they will at least have some acquaintance with most areas of human knowledge by the time they graduate. Yet such broad knowledge can’t help but be somewhat superficial—and, as Kieran Egan argues, it omits a crucial aspect of true education: deep knowledge.

Real education, Egan explains, consists of both general knowledge and detailed understanding, and in Learning in Depth he outlines an ambitious yet practical plan to incorporate deep knowledge into basic education. Under Egan’s program, students will follow the usual curriculum, but with one crucial addition: beginning with their first days of school and continuing until graduation, they will each also study one topic—such as apples, birds, sacred buildings, mollusks, circuses, or stars—in depth. Over the years, with the help and guidance of their supervising teacher, students will expand their understanding of their one topic and build portfolios of knowledge that grow and change along with them. By the time they graduate each student will know as much about his or her topic as almost anyone on earth—and in the process will have learned important, even life-changing lessons about the meaning of expertise, the value of dedication, and the delight of knowing something in depth.

Though Egan’s program may be radical in its effects, it is strikingly simple to implement—as a number of schools have already discovered—and with Learning in Depth as a blueprint, parents, educators, and administrators can instantly begin taking the first steps toward transforming schools and fundamentally deepening their students’ minds.

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1 The Problem

2 The Proposal

3 Objections and Responses

4 The Nature of the Topics

5 Some Operating Principles and Examples

6 Building the Portfolio

7 What Do We Do Next?

Conclusion

Appendix A: Foundations for Learning in Depth

Appendix B: A Brief Outline of the Learning in Depth Program

References

''Learning in Depth outlines a bold and stimulating curricular innovation designed to improve the quality of schooling from kindergarten through high school. The book's key idea is certainly worthy of serious debate and continued experimentation. For that reason alone, I commend its suggestive proposal to the attention of thoughtful educators everywhere.'' - Philip W. Jackson, University of Chicago''
Kieran Egan is the author of many books, including The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding and The Future of Education: Reimagining our Schools from the Ground Up.