Personalised learning and centralised outcomes
It occurred to me from a recent conversation with an educator trying to implement elements of personalization that one of the biggest issues facing this idea is the dichotomy between learning that meets the personal needs of multiple students who are nevertheless working towards the same shared outcome that is then tested by
Medical schools who instituted problem-based learning programmes have the same issue because the standards for doctors are uniform across the system (to a large degree). Students who went through a significantly different process of instruction are then expected to pass the same type of exam.
But in primary, secondary and further education, the curricular mandates are much more sharply defined and the personalisation efforts often more ambitious. For instance, the Montessori approach (which could be called extreme personalisation) lets children decide when they're ready to learn but also to a certain degree what they want to learn and how to go about learning it (with a strong emphasis on 'natural' gifts and group mentoring). But their scope of choice is limited by the rather small universe of choices at their stage of their lives.
How does a young person who wants to become a chef, for instance, decide on much more than when and how? How can the education process be made less of an hurdle (rite of passage) to be overcome rather than a process in which she is an equal participant in a dialogue? Clearly there are different ways to achive vocational competence but they are hardly limitless and guilds/government bodies frequently mandate not just the outcome but the path toward that outcome.
A recent lecture on Dewey at UEA brought home the fact that these problems are neither new nor without philosophical foundation. How exactly will this philosophy play otu in upcoming changes in practice is an open question.