Does the shoe still fit? Reflections on the personalization of education.

by Diane Sandifer No Comments June 5, 2012

In recently buying a new pair of shoes, I reflected back on how one purchased shoes 25 years ago. Shoe stores had employees who actually measured your foot, put the new shoe on your foot, carefully tightened the laces, and had you stand up so they could press the toe area to ensure a proper fit. In today’s world, a buyer goes to a large store where there is no assistance and stacks of shoes are available for choosing one’s size, trying on the shoe yourself, and interacting with an employee only when it’s time to check out and purchase the shoe. Additionally, we can buy shoes online; in this case, we never have any engagement with an individual through the purchasing process.

  • Have we become this way in education?
  • Are children simply numbers, and have we lost the ability to see “the child” and his or her face with a name?
  • When high schools have 4,000 students, are we able to really know our students and to provide for their individual needs?

As adults, we recognize that life is all about our relationships. We need to heed this message in our world of public education. We need to “measure” our children, nurture their academic, social, physical, and emotional needs, carefully check on the “fit” of their education along their journey, and then have them “check out” through handing the graduate a diploma and knowing the face and name of that student. Even in a virtual learning environment, we must “measure and ensure the fit” and have a continued focus on the relationship between the educator and the learner.

I believe that the “shoe can still fit.” Our students can experience excellence in their educational journeys if we model the lost art realized in shoe salesmen of the years past. We can integrate some of those best practices from long ago in remembering that discovering and meeting individual needs is paramount.

Here are some other blogs or articles that you may find relevant in the quest to answer this question.  What advice would you give to school leaders and teachers on how to balance our ability to use technology for personalization with the human value of really KNOWING our students?

Personalizing Learning- The Importance of Technology

The Personalized Learning Foundation

Ed Tech Digest: On Intrinsically Motivating Students

The Personalization of the American Mind: Diane Ravich in EdWeek.

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