All Learning is Personal: So What?

Jim Rickabaugh recently contributed a guest post to EdWeek’s Deeper Learning blog.

“Teach means ‘to show how.’ You can teach someone, or someone can teach you. Learn means ‘to find out about something.’ A person must learn things for himself. Someone else may teach him, but he must do the learning for himself.” (Alexander J. Stoddard and Matilda Bailey)


All learning is personal – it seems almost too obvious to mention, right? However, there seems to be a gathering storm around the increasingly popular term, “personalized learning” (see here and here for examples). Anyone who follows education publications and blogs probably comes across an article related to this subject almost daily.

It seems that most people realize the system we have inherited is not optimizing the education opportunities for all children in an equitable manner. There are a variety of causes for this situation, however it is not because of bad parents, lazy students or uncaring teachers. It is a system problem, not a people problem. A system that was designed over 120 years ago just is not capable of giving today’s students the supports they need to succeed, in school and in life.

Defining Personalized Learning

The Institute has been working with a group of districts across Southeastern Wisconsin since 2010 on a Personalized Learning Initiative. We read these contrasting articles on personalized learning with great interest; we chose the term well before it achieved such notoriety and we have developed a very specific model to define it. The focus of our model is to approach learning and teaching in such a way that the learner is at the center. Read the full post on EdWeek’s website.

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