One of the reasons that many families choose to homeschool is so they can personalize their children's education. Special educators have recognized for years that the one size fits all mentality of the public education system fails students. This is not just true for those with special needs but for all students who can benefit from instruction individualized to their learning styles, interests, and abilities.
Many in the professional field of education have slowly come to recognize that individualization is important. But this has been implemented in the typical once size fits all manner. Concepts such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) were borrowed from other fields as teachers and curriculum developers tried to design instruction that would meet the individual needs of all students. Unfortunately, most of these efforts led to teaching in the middle where both struggling and high achieving students' individual needs were ignored.
As the special education system grew and more students were referred creating a backlog of assessments, a new system was put in place called Response to Intervention or RTI. RTI seeks to help classroom teachers individualize for struggling students who may later need to be referred for special education services. But some will succeed with more individualization eliminating the need for special education.
I recently saw an article on Smithsonian.com that concerned me quite a bit. The headline asked the question, "Is Artificial Intelligence the Key to Personalized Education?" The author of the article suggested that artificial intelligence could create a mini-curriculum for each student based on their interests and abilities. He argued that it would help his daughter by exposing her to ideas faster, personalizing her education, keeping her engaged, and giving her influence over her own education. Sound familiar? The teacher's role would simply be to monitor the student and her data.
Stories like this one reinforce our decision to homeschool. I don't want my children to be taught exclusively by a computer where I simply monitor their data. I want my children to explore, to get out in the world, to interact with others in the real world and not just the virtual one.
We already have avenues that allow for children's education to be individualized. Homeschooling is a perfect example of that. Effective special education principles are an example of that. The problem is in the execution of those methods.
Some families do not have a choice of educational options for their children. But for those of us who are blessed to have choices, let's not miss the opportunity to individualized education for our children. Make your homeschool unique and special. Make it something that speaks to each individual child in your home. That's the real solution to personalized education.