So much of what we do today is of a personalised nature. I love personalised number plates as they say something about the person. They want to be known in a certain way and do so by giving the world a short message about who they are…on their car. I like the one shown below as it is something I can associate with (now being a Mac user). Mac users are happy to tell the world about their passion.
We also personalise:
- our TV viewing with greater selection of channels and recording our favourite TV shows
- our computer desktops
- some use graffiti
- our mobile phones – ring tones
- ipods with our music libraries
- spelling variations of common christian names – Karly, Karlie, Karlee, Karley etc
And the list goes on.
But what about personalising learning? There is little opportunity really. School uniforms need to be ‘uniform’. Possibly doodles on books. Inside their lockers. Messages on backpacks. Illegal scribble on desks or graffiti on buildings.
In most schools students get to choose some of their own subjects. As they get into higher year levels this specialisation increases. However students are still required by the “system” to do subjects that they are not at all interested in doing. Is there enough personalisation going on to keep them interested?
Most schools find that student boredom/disengagement occurs around year 8/9 and levels of behaviour issues increase. From my experience a great number of school students are happy with the social aspects of their schooling but they are bored out of their socks with the content and delivery of what they are learning. Most of it is not meaningful or relevant.
So, if much of our lives involve increasing levels of personalisation then how can this be introduced in meaningful ways into the school system. To a great degree much of it can only be superficial as the system structures won’t allow major changes. The other dilemma is students have been so conditioned to teachers directing all their learning and if students are given the opportunity to initiate their own interest areas they flounder because it is foreign to them.
This is why I love the Big Picture approach because it allows the student to initiate and take responsibility for their own learning by choosing what they really want to learn about. If the teacher directed and school enforced method was not working then why not give this personalised approach a go?