Authentic Personalised Learning

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As the principal of a new learning community establishing the new normal for pre to post schooling, I am obligated to collaboratively explore options for a flexible and differentiated curriculum which is authentically personalised through collaborative processes led, driven and developed by each student.
When in Melbourne last week, I visited three schools. Each school views students as as the drivers of their own learning, not having learning ‘done’ to them. One school in particular, Templestowe College, genuinely hands over ‘control’ to each student, and “everything is negotiable”. The automatic response to students when they negotiate their semester learning program is to say, “Yes, we can look at that.” This culture of trusting students to direct their own learning, along with an unwavering commitment to flexible timetables and diverse curriculum offerings, has resulted in students who, among other things:
  • serve as traditional staff employees including grounds personnel, teacher assistants and front office support staff, AND, they are paid! 
  • train other students to deliver a reading preparation program for primary students
  • participate in the local community as professional musicians
  • market an online game to an overseas investor 
  • tender for the provision of on site cafe services
  • engage in elite sporting programs
  • provide catering and hospitality services for local community events after a tendering process
  • organise business conferences using school facilities
  • establish business which sell products based on business proposals and marketing plans 
  • establish animal breeding programs in liaison with relevant government authorities
  • use maker spaces, laser cutters and three D printers to design products that support emerging business ventures.
All these activities form part of a student’s ‘timetable’ and they are just the tip of the iceberg! The school offers an extremely varied curriculum with authentically rich individual learning pathways. Personalised learning is truly authentic! Individual learning pathways are developed by the student, inclusive of parents and signed off by the principal. This is done so in accordance with Clause 82 of the Victorian Curriculum Accreditation Authority. It reads as follows….
“If a school proposes for any student an individual learning program that departs from the provision model set out in the whole-school curriculum plan, that decision should be made in conjunction with the student and the student’s parents/carers, and must be approved by the school principal” Victoria Curriculum December 2015
The principal has cleverly interpreted that each student is entitled to determine their own individual learning program. I am wondering if there is a similar clause in NSW. For example, although it applies for students with disabilities, is the collaborative curriculum planning process for students a ‘way in’ for each and every student to develop their own personalised learning pathway? One part that jumps out at me is…….. 
“The decision should be made through the collaborative curriculum planning process involving the student, parent/carer and other significant individuals. School systems and individual schools are responsible for the manner in which the collaborative process is managed.” 
In accepting that no two learners are the same, is the collaborative curriculum planning process a ‘way in’ for personalised learning to become a reality for each and every student in New South Wales?
Feedback welcome.

7 thoughts on “Authentic Personalised Learning

  1. I love your thinking! Why do we push content on our students when it might not be relevant to them? Reshaping school to become a place where students are active participants – engaged, having fun and excelling! As a first year teacher I am learning the ropes while at the same time imagining and creating new possibilities…exciting times!

  2. Hi Greg ! Great post – I believe I may just be on the School Council of this school! so glad you got to go to TC to check it out. Wish I had have known you were going – I would have tried to meet you as well!

    Cheers Tracey

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. If a parent can get registered for home schooling thereby providing a very personalised experience the latitude must be there.

  4. A great read Greg. Surely personalised learning should involve the person,ie the student, in negotiating his or her pathway. This blog has got me thinking!!!

  5. Such an interesting approach to learning. It really goes beyond the lip service that many schools give to preparing students for the future and completely engages students with the skills they need for excellence in the workplace. It would be very intriguing to see how this could be implemented in NSW.

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