Rob thoughts

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Rob thoughts

Rob Brookhart
As I think about this topic, it seems to me that the differences between these is really about self-directedness and who really owns the learning.  Teachers have and hopefully have some accountability to know that students are learning things from their instruction.  Those basics need to be covered but often people don't think they can unless they are explicitly taught. And lets be honest, it's easier to teach it once instead of 25 times individually.  That thinking isn't really shifting the paradigm to personalized learning.  The ownership of that learning is still on the teacher.  If that is what they are doing, they are right.  It is easier to do once (maybe twice) than 25 times individually.  

Personalization has a great number of unknowns and that unpredictability causes a lot of anxiety. (and often rightfully so) When the demands are for students to have basic core knowledge and understanding it is difficult to know that they will get those opportunities to learn that if they move on their own.  The skills and depth of understanding of the core, all of the core, is a huge challenge.  The ability to break down projects, tasks, etc to the discrete skills demonstrated as well as connect those to the Iowa core is a big challenge.  I know I wouldn't be able to do it.  Personalized is a great buzz word, but it is much more difficulty to actually do.  It's the buzzword that is popular right now, just like differentiation was 10 years ago.  It's hard to even find a common definition of what it is when you look at the authors promoting it.  Everyone wants to do "it" but having a school culture of common understanding of "it" is a huge challenge.

I think in the best scenarios, there is a hybrid of these vs. one or the other.  A lot of energy can go into thinking is it or isn't it personalized.  When really it is a moving target that moves with each different student.  Maybe it's more about how much is this being personalized and who is driving the learning.

So could you go in a classroom and figure it out in 30 seconds?  Sure, just ask the kids, they'll let you know who is driving learning.