Why Crossover Learning is Working in the Classroom

2 min


Most traditional school curricula fail to recognize that learning doesn’t stop in the classroom. Neither can learning be divided neatly into grade levels and age groups. Learning is a continuous process that does not stop when the student is not in school.

Happy little girl behind books that read "Never stop learning"

In light of this fact, YourStory explains why many organizations are now pursuing educational reforms to promote lifelong learning. One of the strategies that has been developed is crossover learning.

Connecting Formal and Informal Learning

Crossover learning combines the strengths of both formal and informal learning environments, and aims to provide students with the best of both. TeachThought describes the result as more authentic and engaging opportunities for learning.

An effective method for crossover learning involves teachers proposing a question or problem in the classroom to be solved in museum visits or field trips. Children can learn by collecting photos, taking down notes, or asking other people for their own thoughts. They then present what they learned back in the classroom to further illuminate the given problem.

Kids circling teacher all dressed-up in costume

Being able to learn outside of formal schooling supports the development of a child’s skills in a variety of topics and subjects, while also helping them do better in their school requirements and activities. On the flipside, bringing informal learning into the classrooms can enrich textbook knowledge with personal experience. Crossover learning creates space for students in the formal curriculum to pursue individual interests and themes related to the subject.

The experience of pursuing knowledge, even through simple conversations with peers, can allow students to retain information better than simply reading it out of a book or being told by a teacher, explains Eric Mazur of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Creativity is Key

Thinking outside the bounds of formal education requires a certain amount of creativity. Giving students freedom to explore, to make mistakes and to fully understand, allow them to build not only competence, but also confidence in themselves.

Canvas and paintings of cats colorful

Moreover, taking advantage of creative tools, such as playful games and visual exercises, can capture interest and stimulate learning. A blog post from Tootsa explores a good example of how creativity can make traditionally difficult subjects like math more interesting and understandable through art. By tackling complex principles through engaging and fun activities, students are better able to comprehend each element and group them together to get an overall understanding of various topics within the course.

Innovating Further

Comparative learning is only the beginning.

Finland, a global leader in quality education, is taking crossover learning to the next level with their push for phenomenon-based learning. The BBC News reports that by 2020, Finnish schoolchildren — who consistently exhibit above average proficiency in terms of literacy and math skills — will have less “subjects” in their everyday schooling. In their stead, the National Finnish Curriculum places inter-disciplinary topics in which teachers can integrate all the basic subjects the rest of the world is using.

For example, a lesson can revolve around the European Union, and will explore points from several traditional subjects like history, geography, languages, and economics.

Photo of smiling couple behind mountain of books on shelf in library

The move was made in response to what pedagogical research has been saying for decades: children need to learn how, not what, to think. In addition, the approach places less focus on getting children to perform better at international standard exams, and more on equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need in life.

What are your thoughts on crossover learning?


author imageThis article was written by TeachWithJB. She has been teaching in primary schools for 9 years. When not in class, she writes story books for her two kids and other children to enjoy.

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