Our dojo does instruct us on a variety of weapons. When we get to a certain level of instruction we are charged with the responsiblity of choosing (with our Sensei's approval) a weapon. We then have to research the history and uses of that weapon, specific applications of the weapon, and learn a kata (we can make our own but our Sensei said it's much easier to learn one or adapt one). We then give a report on what we've learned and demonstrate the uses. I don't believe we will be graded on the specific moves of any kata we perform, just a grade on the overall "project".
Our Dojo tries to get us to not just "learn" karate but to live it. Our Sensei has given us the sense that other than the basic moves our understanding and learning will go much deeper if we initiate some of the learning on our own.
Thank you for your input.