Friday, May 20, 2005
Personalized Learning - The future!
We need a new philosophy of education that puts the needs of learners at the centre.
For many people teaching every learner as an individual is both powerful and attractive. But people also find it hard to imagine how this personalized learning could be realized. It would mean rewriting the whole educational script; it would mean focusing on each student’s learning pathway. It would mean involving students ( and their parents) making choices about their own education; particularly at the secondary level.
Essentially it is about fitting school to the learner rather than the learner trying to fit into the school. Teachers would need to act as professionals, negotiating learning challenges, helping students unlock their talents, and helping them develop appropriate skills. Teachers would need to act as advisers, advocates and mentors. If successful, each learner should be able to tell the story of their own learning, how, and why, and as well, be able to demonstrate the qualifications they have gained along the way.
Such an approach challenges the very ways schools ( particularly secondary schools) are currently organized. Most schools already recognize that some children have special needs. A personalized system would extend this concept to all students. Perhaps some system of earned autonomy might be one pathway, but whatever, there would need to be a change of role for teachers to help students make appropriate choices. Studies have shown that if people are given responsibity they use it well, and this applies to students as well as teachers.
Children with less ‘social capital’ may need more help to take advantage of such an approach.
In life, all learning is personalized, no matter how successful as students schooling has been. A successful future for all studends will depend on the quality of the judgments they have learnt from their previous experiences.
To develop such judgement students need a personalized education based on making their own meanings and living with their choices.
Personalized learning might solve the current dilemma over the NZCEA units - each student could make up their own combination of units around their personal needs with help of the school?
Check out personalised learning from the UK Department of Education and Science and in the US 'The Big Picture Company'( search google)