Petrilli Pokes Personalized Processing
Mike Petrilli, head honcho of the ever-reformy Thomas B. Fordham Institute, has taken a look at the future of Personalized Learning, and he has some concerns. He's read the PR, and he knows about the appeal of super-flexible differentiation, the varied student-customized pathways to excellence. However:
Hooray for all that. But after seeing a version of personalized learning in action recently, I’m worried that it may be reinforcing some of the worst aspects of standards-based, data-driven instruction. Namely: It might be encouraging a reductionist type of education that breaks learning into little bits and scraps and bytes of disparate skills, disconnected from an inspiring, coherent whole.
What he's noting here is the ways in which Personalized Learning has become the cojoined twin of Competency Based Education. Saying that PL/CBE "might be" encouraging reductionist, list-based, disjointed education is like saying that Betsy DeVos "might be" leaning toward school choice as a policy approach to education.
We have had versions of this conversation before. Back in the day when folks bothered to talk about Common Core, defenders frequently countered the real-life problems of CCSS with explanations of how it was "supposed" to be. Even people who wrote it would argue that people were misusing their beautiful creation and that's not how it was supposed to look at all. It wasn't supposed to be top-down or prescriptive or rigid or a straightjacket on both curriculum and instruction. And yet, in the real world, it was absolutely all those things.
Over the past years, I have had multiple conversations with CBE fans who direct me to things like the CBE work in Chugach, Alaska, as a sign that CBE doesn't have to be an Outcome-Based Education retread with lists to check off and "outcomes" reduced to simple, easily measured mini-tasks. YetCURMUDGUCATION: Petrilli Pokes Personalized Processing: