Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Individualized education is starting to feel like categorization

I am a huge cheerleader for the movement to individualize education for kids.  I think that every kid is different and is going in a different direction, and thus it only makes sense to provide more flexibility in how to teach kids.  That said, I'm frustrated with the direction society seems to be taking this.

I think my frustration started with Lady Gaga's "Born this way" song from a few years back.  Catchy, yes.  A message of openness and acceptance, yes.  But it seems to send a message that you are stuck with what you're born with.  In the context of the song, I think the message is that gender identity is more like race than ability to read -- something that you can't just work hard at and change.  However, when you listen to some progressive educators and edtech folks talk, you hear about creating learning profiles that categorize kids into visual, oral, and social learners.  You hear about grouping students by their preferences and things they like to do.  Some of this might be great, as any good teacher is always looking to change how they teach to better connect the delivery and content of their subject to their kids.  I take issue with the lack of discussion around expanding student interests to new topics or helping them strengthen one of their input mechanisms for learning.  The message I read from this is "work hard to meet students where they are at".  Shouldn't we also be pushing them to become more than they thought they could be and getting them excited about things they knew little about?  Maybe that is a problem that software can't touch yet, so nobody in the edtech world gives it the time of day.  Or maybe we just believe that kids won't change because they were born that way.

1 comment:

  1. I think students will push themselves if we can provide the right environment. The real trick is engaging them in improving themselves, and encouraging them on discovering their path.

    I agree that grouping should not be done by interest, or learning style. Lessons should work to address all styles, and students will learn valuable things from peers with other interests (and styles). Cross disciplinary projects are a long way from where we are now, but seem to be a way to approach this.

    I am not a fan of age phalanx education. In my perfect world, grouping by skill across ages would not have a social stigma, but that is not the world we live in.

    In my perfect world, students (and parents) would choose from a number of mini courses based around project sets well described. It would be the responsibility of the student (and parents) to put together a collection of projects that would cover requirements.