Why Personalized Learning Matters
Post date: Oct 19, 2016 2:46:15 AM
By FE ALMA VC. ESPEDIDO
“Everbody is genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing It is stupid.” - Albert Einstein Our understanding of the human brain has become better and better as the discipline of neurobiology and psychology has discovered more on how and why we think.
What we know of psychological disorders and tendencies have reached the point where we can recognize symptoms and provide possible treatments. As educators, this should help us in managing our classrooms and providing better education. This becomes challenging when we realize the importance of personalized learning. Personalized learning, at its core, is recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each student in a classroom. Through this, we can figure out the best way for them to learn, to be motivated, and to progress. It also provides us with the necessary background on which fields we can expect them to naturally excel, and which fields they will most likely have difficulty in.
Education becomes difficulty, but more rewarding, in the sense that we have to modify our traditional teaching techniques to cater to the different needs of our students. But how do you do this in classroom with 40 to 80 students with different attentions spans, preferences, and tastes? Well, this could mean we need to change classical assignment of students to sections. During entrance exams, the students learning preferences can be determined. Some students are visual, and need visual aids to learn, some are oral and prefer vocal instructions to written ones. Some are independent learners that prefer to work on their own than learn through lectures. By grouping our students based on how they prefer to learn, rather than IQ or their entrance exam scores, we group them based on the type of instructions they need. This will make it easier for us to prepare the right modules and methods of teaching. Apart from this, we can also set different expectations and motivational systems for students. Traditionally we compute for the highest total average against all students and measure excellence based on this average. Except that we have students who are amazing scientists but do not excel in Math, while we have great artists who are not gifted with bodies that will excel in sports. By evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of students, we can set up streams where artists and trained and measured as artists, managers are trained for administrative work, and scientists are immersed in a culture of science. In this way, a child will not feel that he is stupid even if he fails in Math, because Math may not necessarily be important in his field of interest, same with other specific subjects. We must, of course, set a core set of subjects where all students must have at least a minimum knowledge in. This can be language, either English or Filipino or their native tongue, to facilitate good communication. Philippine history is important, so that our students have a clear national identity. We must also focus on Physical Education as a means to be healthy, rather than just focus on sports. General Math would be focused on arithmetic and general problem solving for daily life (how to compute for change in stores, how to compute for bank interest, etc).
This would ideally give us more time to teach a discipline that is getting more difficult to teach: Good Manners and Right Conduct. With greater exposure to the world because of the internet, our students, at a young age, learn about moral ambiguity. They see behavior and appearances that are deemed “cool” and appropriate, from twerking to cursing, and pre-marital sex, before them learning about the consequences of these actions and their negative impacts in the lives of people who engage in them. As they grow up, the believe themselves entitled to all the world’s comforts without realizing the value of hard work and critical thinking. This makes them cold, apathetic, disrespectful, self-centered and selfish. By adjusting our teaching methods and realizing the differences in strengths and weaknesses of our students, we can teach them better.
And more importantly, we can also help teach them to become kind, concerned, respectful, open-minded and generous.