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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Is personalization a fad? Curriculum matters

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If students choose what to learn, pursuing their own interests, they’ll be engaged and active learners, say some personalized-learning advocates. Not so fast, write Amber Oliver and Michael Horn on EdSurge. Curriculum — what students are learning — matters. Personalizing learning “will be most powerful when it is coupled with intentional, coherent and rigorous instruction.” Otherwise, it will be just a “fad.”

Yes, tapping into and developing children’s interests and instilling in them a sense of ownership of their education is important. Yet allowing them unbridled choice of what they learn, especially when they are young, means that in certain cases they will miss building that foundation. Despite the claims from some that content knowledge no longer matters in a world where everything is google-able, possessing deep background knowledge remains imperative for students to be able to read across a wide range of subjects and literary genres and be successful learners.

Some students come to school with lots of knowledge and experience from discussions with parents and visits to libraries, museums, zoos, farms and theaters. Others need to build knowledge at school. Technology can help, write Oliver and Horn.

It’s hard for young people to know what they’re interested in if they don’t know what’s out there.

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