Is Personalized Learning depersonalizing the wonder of our natural world?

By Denise Ryan

At time when investors and philanthropists are sinking tons of moola into Edtech, (growing from $75bn in 2014 to $120bn in 2019!), and development in adaptive learning, voice recognition, and machine learning is growing off-the-hook— I wonder what the long-term effect will be on the cultivation of life skills. You know, things like hooking a worm onto your fishing line.

I view teachers as artists. The great ones inspire, provoke critical thinking, teach tolerance and acceptance They create an environment of curiosity. Does Personalized Learning demotivate teachers to create their own curriculum? Relegating them to the role of “facilitators or guides and otherwise get out of the way” of student-led learning? Is Learning Technology deprofessionalizing the art of teaching?

I think some schools are modeling great Personized Learning curricula. In Redding, Connecticut, the student-directed ‘learning to my strengths’ approach includes a nice balance between a live teacher, peer-to-peer learning, classroom technology and ‘hands on’ exploration. “Budding naturalists at the middle school can join the student council conservation committee or do rock climbing. Also in the fifth grade, science classes take advantage of the Saugatuck Trail across the street and do outdoor learning.”

Personalized Learning, or not— at Shape of Life we’re realistic about our place within the classroom experience. Our media is designed to complement a teachers artistry, a students curiosity and encourage kids to get outside and experience nature first-hand. Nothing can replace a tactile, personal relationship with the natural world.