Sunday, 19 February 2012

Scaling Personalized Learning: Share your metaphor

What metaphor would you use to describe personalized learning?

I was reminded of the power of metaphors this past weekend at the #BCSSA12 conference in Vancouver on Innovation and Personalized Learning. Charles Leadbeater drew on the metaphors of wine labels and football (soccer) - themes which are part of our universal psyche. As we visualized the differences between the didactic nature of the French wine-labeling system vs the "barbaric" accessible nature of the Australian wine-labeling system, we reflected on what this meant in the current educational context. The insular jargon-filled world that is BC Education is surely more accurately represented by French wine labels - understood by the few and inaccessible to the many.

We also reflected on the concept of"total football", first introduced by the Dutchman Johan Cruyff, which transformed the game in the 70's. The concept was that a player would train to be skilled in any position and the roles were therefore fluid. In education, this would entail a roving leadership model that allowed for students, teachers, administrators and the community to weave in an out of roles in the learning process.

As we continue the conversation on how to "scale" personalized learning in BC - that is make it the rule rather than the exception - we need to be able to use a common language and vision for what it could look like. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, the Universal Design for Learning framework enables a teacher to plan for personalized learning but what is the story or image that we can use to dialogue with colleagues?

One image that comes to mind for me is a painting palette. Consider the 2 images below. One contains your primary colors while the other reflects all the shades that can be created from those colors. There are certain "primary" elements that make up the educational experience of a student - core courses, field trips, school activities, etc. - but what combination and quantity of these elements reflects the shade that is most appealing to each student? Surely the image of all the various shades more accurately represents the mosaic of students' interests and abilities in our school system.  Furthermore, we could consider that there are primary characteristics that make up the nature of each child but it is a complex combination of these characteristics that give him/her their individuality:

I invite you to share your metaphor on Twitter with the following hashtag: #PLmetaphor

 I'll leave you this week with a Charles Leadbeater video on innovation in education.  Have a great week.


  1. Enjoyed looking through your blog. Just learned about Charlie Leadbeater and looks like I'm about the last one! Interesting aside, I taught Johan's son Jordie in Amsterdam many years ago. (Johan--someone else I'd never heard of--hey, I'm not a soccer player!)
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks for the comments. your blog looks interesting as well! STephen