I would like to provide some additional insights into Personalized Learning, following my last entry a couple of weeks ago.
BC History: We tend to forget that here in BC we had momentum in the late 1980s (no, we didn’t have the internet, but we weren’t driving horse buggies either!) for introducing a system-wide, learner-centred (i.e. Personalized Learning) approach to K-12 education. The Year 2000 Plan drafted on the heels of the remarkable Sullivan Commission on Education presented to government in 1988. Alas, the roll-out of the Y2K plan was bungled by the ministry, resisted by some vocal, vested interest groups (high school and post-secondary educators especially) and before you could say “progressive” NDP Premier Mike Harcourt extinguished the plan. Following which the government created the next great sinkhole for education funds, “flagship technology schools.”
And while we’re talking BC and PL, it’s important to note a real and important impetus behind the present BC Education Plan initiative came from, wait for it, BC students themselves! The BC Student Voice, a group of senior high school students brought together with government help in 2010 pulled together their thoughts into a remarkable report. The report summarized their ideas, including much greater emphasis on PL, less curriculum-driven coursework, more technology, more engagement with the real world, i.e. beyond the school walls. Then-Education Minister George Abbott dropped in on the group, listened to them, read their report, and before you could say, “21st Century Learning” the Minister said, BC Education Plan. And if only he’d included the BCTF in hatching the BCEP, there’d be less resistance to it today.
Finnish-ing School: Guess what one of the secrets is behind Finland’s much vaunted education system, that is clearly linked to its success? That’s right, it’s emphasis on Personalized Learning, though not because of government fiat that schools will provide brain scans or Multiple Intelligence testing. It’s more nuanced than that. In Finland, students stay with the same teacher for a duration of six years, during which time the teacher is in relationship with each student in a unique way, and dedicated to helping that student achieve learning and life goals. Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, author of ‘Finnish Lessons, what the world can learn about Finland’s Education System,’ said in a CBC interview in February: “What our young people need much more of in the future, more than we did or our parents needed, is education to discover their own passion, their own interests and talents.”
That’s the learning future I’m working towards.
Reminder: On May 5th, I am giving a keynote presentation at the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Groups (BCCPAC) Spring Conference and AGM (link here) on the theme of Personalized Learning or PL.
For information on my book: Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now (2011) and to order a copy, go here.