Draining The Semantic Swamp of “Personalized Learning”–A View from Silicon Valley (Part 1)

Larry Cuban, Larry Cuban on School Reform, Classroom Practice, Jun 20, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There is a spectrum of approaches to 'personalized learning', writes Larry Cuban. "At one end of the continuum are teacher-centered lessons and programs within the traditional age-graded school using behavioral approaches... At the other end of the continuum are student-centered lessons and programs that seek student agency." These might be terms the behaviourist and ccognitivist approaches respectively, or the traditional and progressive approaches. But within the progressive camp there is yet another division, he writes. "One wing of these early progressives were pedagogical pioneers advocating project-based learning, student-centered activities, and connections to the world outside of the classroom, (while) another wing of the same movement were efficiency-minded, 'administrative progressives'" who "counted and measured everything in schools and classrooms (and) reduced complex skills and knowledge to small chunks that students could learn and practice." In other words, "Thorndike trumped Dewey," says Cuban, and we're looking at the same divisions today. Image: Edward Thorndike, Wikipedia.

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