Learning Should Never be Lonely [SLIDE]

One of the terms that I just can’t come to grips with in education is “personalized learning.”  Maybe I’m being paranoid, but it literally frightens me. 

In my worst nightmares, I see rows of quiet kids sitting behind computers in quiet classrooms clicking away at keyboards as they work on individual tasks that are “customized to meet their unique sets of strengths and weaknesses.”  I see principals reveling in “the responsiveness of their classrooms” and teachers relaxing because there’s nothing to grade.  Worse yet, I see corporate giants drooling over heaping piles of cold, hard cash forked over by districts trying to “make the grade” even when “making the grade” means stripping every last drop of humanity out of our schools.

(click here to view and download on Flickr)

Here’s a simple truth, y’all: Real learning is sometimes personal and oftentimes social, but it is NEVER lonely.



Related Radical Reads:

Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome

In Celebration of Teaching Geeks

#edtech Reflections for Preservice Teachers

4 thoughts on “Learning Should Never be Lonely [SLIDE]

  1. Adam Garry

    Ahh Bill we must get a cold one soon. We both share a healthy fear of corporations hijacking the term personalized learning and using it to promote individualized instruction or slap the term on their new marketing and sell the same horrible stuff to schools. I’ve actually spent the last five years of my life supporting districts that define personalized learning from the student perspective. When learning is truly personalized students will have voice and choice in the learning process. They won’t sit at computers all day and have crappy digital resources served up to them as they complete the next assessment. They will work with their teachers to utilize great learning resource (and yes sometimes it will be a lecture from a teacher) and they will show learning in multiple ways (through products and other methods). The goal is to make learning relevant for students and to allow it to happen anywhere and at anytime. I know that you support a more student-centered approach in your classroom and this is just utilizing tools to scale it for every child and make learning more relevant for the student. It is not easy to build toward this learning process, but it is the right thing to do for kids.


    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Adam,

      I’m totally with you on what “personalized learning” COULD and SHOULD be. But I’m also skeptical that the vision you describe will actually win out against the corporate version that has me so worried on my “tin foil hat” days. The simple truth is that corporations want cheap solutions, politicans want fast solutions, and school leaders — particularly those in communities serving students of poverty — want easy solutions.

      There’s nothing cheap, fast and easy about personalized learning done well.

      Any of this make sense?

  2. Erin Byrd

    I share your nightmare. My worst fear with the technological advances being made in our public schools, here in my county, is that the students are going to suffer for not being truly taught the basic every day curriculum! I see computers everywhere, teachers are showing slides, rarely standing to walk around and teach. I love that we can incorporate technology into our classrooms, but I don’t want it to take away from the actual learning that should be going on. I think you are on to something here! I really enjoyed this post! Thanks!

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Glad you dug this, Erin.

      Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but at least here in the States where “success” is currently defined as “passing multiple choice tests” I can definitely see a future where corporations push products designed to “customize” learning experiences for individual students — where “customize” means ask different questions to quiet students sitting behind computers answering questions alone.

      Policymakers will dig it because test scores will rise. Corporations will love it because it will create a huge new market for products and services. Kids will hate it because it will suck.

      It frightens me.

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