Language Education Policy Studies
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Deep Education 

Formal institutionalized schooling plays a decisive role for individual prosperity and dignity. The education system tends to systematically devalue culture, language, and identity (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2009; see Language and Identity), while the inequalities between the have and have-nots are increasing (Tochon, 2003). The focus of educational institutions is often fragmented and directed to instrumental and technical problem-solving rationality. See Literacy and High Stakes Exams, and Inequality to understand the predominant and powerful Education narrative in the 21st century.


Deep Education (Tochon, 2010) is an alternative approach. This holistic approach is earth-centered, with the objective of social justice. It relates to transdisciplinarity to unify knowledge and the sciences. The principles of the Deep Approach start with its goals, planting seeds for a better society, promoting peace and understanding, unifying people, legitimating language and culture by building bridges, and creating eco-cultural meaningfulness and cross-cultural community building. (See here for more information.)


Tochon's Deep Approach to world languages and cultures derives from the concept of Deep Education. It is project-based and student-led with these goals. Rather than assessment by standardized tests, the students create project portfolios and compare their achievements to their intended goals. The teacher is a guide rather than a knowledge keeper. The students learn and experience a meaningfulness through an alternate worldview that promotes peace and understanding.


The connection to language in education policies is that schooling is often where languages live and die, and deep education envisions plurilingual learning where students work on projects and use their linguistic repertoire. However, it could easily be multilingual (See Multilingual Education) or plurilingual (see page) in a more comprehensive vision of quality “Education for all” (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2009). Furthermore knowledge is not fragmented into disciplines, rather it is transdisciplinary (see page). World Language Education could facilitate student-led learning with intercultural or even transcultural understanding of the ‘other’ through a deeper approach to (foreign) language learning. (See Deep Approach to Language Learning.) 



  • Tochon, F. V. & Busciglio, D. F.   (2017). Deep Education Across the Disciplines and Beyond: A 21st Century Transdisciplinary Breakthrough. Blue Mounds, WI: Deep University Press.
  • Tochon, F. V. (2010). Deep Education. Journal for Educators, Teachers and Trainers , 1, 1-12.
  • Tochon, F. V. (2003). The Deep Approach. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
  • Tochon, F. V. (2009). The Key to Global Understanding: World Languages Education Why Schools Need to Adapt. Review of Educational Research , 79 (2), 650-681.


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Harrison, K. M. (2013). Deep Education. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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