Get to Know the Learners

Here’s an article from the Guardian newspaper in England. On first reading, it might seem like a nice story of education innovation leading to improvement in school education;

Guardian Article – Personalised Learning

However, after initial reading there were certain aspects about the story that I found rather saddening and a bit unsettling. My own shift in to school education was via adult learning and training in the 1990s. Anyone who has undergone extensive adult ‘train the trainer’ training will confirm that a considerable amount of emphasis is placed on;
a) respecting the learner/ trainee/ participant,
b) acknowledging that they could be doing something else,
c) being aware that their agenda/ priorities may not be there in the room at that time, etc.

However, when it comes to school education for children, somehow everyone seems to get surprised at steps taken like those in this article that entail respecting the child as a learner, getting to know them as an individual (not just seeing them as part of a homogenous mass/ group. Yet, there are some harsh realities here about how school education systems have traditionally treated children. How often have we heard a teacher talk about a particular class (30 children) of having a common character – very bright, ill-disciplined, lacking in creativity etc. The sad reality is that too much of what has been considered acceptable in schools education in the past has been dehumanizing, insulting and would not have been dared by those whose work involved teaching or training adult learners.

Nevertheless, I guess if, however slowly and gradually, we are ‘getting it’, humanizing the classroom and our schools and genuinely striving to personalize the learning experience for children – well, better late than never!

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