Policy-making to Promote Personalised Learning | By Jean-Claude Ruano-Borbalan | Published in Personalising Education, OECD/CERI, 2006
Jean-Claude Ruano-Borbalan follows the history of knowledge about learning to discuss the issue of personalisation with particular reference to France. An original characteristic of recent centuries, he argues, has been the development of massive systems to codify and reproduce society, and a marked feature of such systems has been the form of their schools, classes and lessons. This is “efficient” when it comes to social reproduction and socialisation into society’s values but not in terms of knowledge gain, learning ability, and autonomy. Hence, however convincing the case for personalisation may be from the viewpoint of learning and the individual, we need to recognise the extent to which it may conflict with traditional socialisation into society’s values. It also conflicts with beliefs held especially by teachers about traditional modes of schooling. Ruano-Borbalan believes that the progressive element of the personalisation agenda is less in evidence in France now than it was 20-30 years ago.
Nevertheless, he proposes that we are at a “second modernity”, borrowing a term from Giddens, with a gap between the dominant form of authority and knowledge transmission in the school system, on the one hand, and the scope for individuals to act and reflect, on the other. For modern societies, co-operation, networking and personalised learning are essential to economic and social development. Hence, the situation is one characterised by tensions. Because every human story is different, learning reflexes cannot be dictated, in any case not by policy makers, but schools can make a variety of activities and knowledge available to learners, in a range of educational situations and then let the learners decide how to progress and learn.