Learning Without Limits
Welcome to the Learning Without Limits project
The Learning Without Limits project is dedicated to developing approaches to teaching and learning that do not rely on determinist beliefs about ability. The project is inspired by decades of research that have drawn attention to the many complex ways in which ideas of fixed ability, and the practices based on them, can limit learning.
A special issue of the journal FORUM (vol 55, no 1, 2013) , just published, contains challenging and inspiring accounts of the ideas and practices of a selection of teachers, academics and researchers who are committed to developing such approaches. It is edited by Mary Jane Drummond and Patrick Yarker, both members of the original Learning without Limits study. The contents page and editorial can be found by following the links.
An alternative approach to whole-school development
Creating Learning without Limits, published by Open University Press in 2012, builds on the findings of the first Learning without Limits study (see below). Co-authored by Mandy Swann, Alison Peacock, Susan Hart and Mary Jane Drummond, it tells the story of how one primary school community worked to build a learning environment that is inclusive, humane and enabling for everybody, a place free from the damaging effects of fixed ability thinking and practices.
"This will undoubtedly turn out to be among the most important books of the decade. If you want to know why the standards agenda must inevitably fail and what we might do instead, read this book."
Professor Michael Fielding, Institute of Education, University of London.
To read Michael Fielding's full commentary and other early responses to the book, click on the link. Further information about the project aims and methods can be found on the Creating Learning without Limits project pages.
Original study and book
Our first study (1999-2002) set out to analyse the practices of individual teachers who had rejected ability-based approaches. We found that, in place of the notion of ability, a sense of 'transformability' permeated every aspect of their work: the conviction that things can change and be changed for the better, sometimes even dramatically, as a result of the choices that people – both teachers and children - make in the present. Further information can be found on The First LWL Project pages.
The key concepts and principles of transformability-based pedagogy are elaborated in detail in our award-winning book, 'Learning Without Limits', published by Open University Press in 2004, described by Professor Tim Brighouse as a 'book that could change the world'.
Building a network
Related work by other colleagues, in the UK, Europe and US, can be found by following the link. If you are interested in joining a network of people working towards the development of education free from determinist beliefs about ability, you will find an invitation to make contact by following the Building a Network link.
Previous projects laying foundations for the development of a network include: