Personalised Learning and Changing Conceptions of Childhood and Youth


Download article | By Yvonne Hébert and William J. Hartley  | Published in Personalising Education, OECD/CERI, 2006


Yvonne Hébert and William J. Hartley use the example of Canada to demonstrate changes which occur through societies, shaped by moral, socio-economic, political and legal influences. These societal changes include the appearance of a more liberal Christianity, the growth of industrial and agricultural productivity, the spread of literacy and the rise of the middle class, the greater emancipation of women, and enlarged notions of citizenship. Two particular processes – the start of mass schooling and the post-war development of teenage youth culture in advertising and through the media – have been important in extending childhood and shaping youth.


The authors then provide examples of the sociological and historic perspectives in Canada concerning children. Cultural perspectives are important in relation to the personalisation agenda because cultural factors define the meaning of the term “personal” and influence the promotion of the personalisation agenda. These cultural factors also help to explain why the agenda is emerging in some countries now as a policy priority and why policy-makers are asking educators to overlook general social representations of children in order to support the children’s strengths, legitimacy, diversity and vitality. Young people must be recognised with all their potential, as individuals who, as members of particular socio-political and cultural groups, are faced with their own issues and challenges. Since not all students are alike, only one conception of the student/learner/consumer will not help all children. Imposing a narrow view of children in policy and practice will simply increase inequalities.


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