The evolution of learning

6 Apr

This week our school implemented a new reporting and parent teacher interview system. It is a huge change that I will keep you informed on. Basically it is a move from the 5 minute speed dating system to 1 interview over twenty minutes where one teacher covers everything.

It got me thinking the world’s education systems are in the midst of change unlike any other time over the past century. We are in the greatest change since de la Salle introduced classroom teaching in France. It’s a historical moment where governments, teachers, parents and school communities are exploring visions of an education system that would embody increased flexibility (curricular and otherwise), innovation (technologies and pedagogy) and more individualized and self-directed approaches to student learning. Within this 21st-century parade of change, the notion of personalization in education is moving to the forefront.

Every day teachers enter classrooms to engage diverse minds across multiple activities and to support each student as he or she inquiries into problems. These same teachers, who hold a keen awareness of each of their student’s particular learning styles and passions, are also simultaneously contending with issues of poverty, lack of parental involvement (or conversely helicopter parents), large classes, familial and community influences, student effort and numerous digital and popular culture distractions that add to complexity of their professional practice.

We now have many deep cultural undertows that are worth supporting; primarily differentiation that recognizes the diversity and complexity in the classroom, and the taking up of emerging technologies to engage learning.

We are entering a digital age where students access the information they want—how they want it, when they want it and where they want it. This will have a profound effect on critical thinking as people are increasingly fed only the exact type of information and sources (individual blogs, new media and ethnically oriented online spaces) to which they digitally subscribe. The time where mobile devices were banned in classes is a distant memory.

Perhaps an immediate action that teachers can take is to embrace the wiki way of influencing meaning by visiting Wikipedia.org and contributing to or (re)shaping the definition of personalized learning. As educators and others search out the meaning of this term, you will then have put your personal stamp on the concept as you see it lived out in your own unique educational contexts. Ultimately, we need to individually and collectively define this term, and in doing so be empowered to share a vision of what knowledge and pedagogical approaches are of most worth in the 21st century.

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