Individualized Learning

At ISH, we are on a journey to individualise the learning experience for all our students. We want to be forward thinking and incorporate current research about how students learn best.

In the traditional or industrial model of education, teachers taught and students sat and listened. Teachers were the experts. Students had to be intelligent sponges, absorbing the right knowledge. They then had to give back what they had learned in examinations with feats of memorisation and rote learning. This model of learning was of a one-size-fits-all type and was teacher-focused. Students either swam or sank.

As we moved to a more enlightened understanding of the learning process, educators understood that students have very different needs linked with very different abilities. Until relatively recently, teachers were trained to differentiate instruction for different levels of ability. Different textbooks, worksheets and activities were given to students depending on their ability. Still, in this model teachers ultimately controlled the learning.

As we move more up-to-date, there has been an explosion in understanding about how real learning takes place. Although it is still relatively new research, cognitive science is able to demonstrate how the brain changes and grows in response to learning. There have been perhaps too many bold claims made by this new science too quickly, but we are to say that learning is messy, organic and is achieved by each individual quite distinctly. Each of us has a unique learning style that can be conditioned by our genetic inheritance, our culture, our nurturing, our gender, our age and other factors.

It is this developing understanding that is moving good schools towards individualising learning. What does this mean in practice? Fundamentally, this means that teachers give students have more choice and freedom to control what, how and when they learn based on their unique learning style. Obviously, teachers can’t prepare twenty different lessons for twenty different students in class. So they can provide a framework for learning that students can navigate in ways that make sense to them. Teachers have moved from being experts to facilitators of learning.

This is actually a much harder job then simply lecturing as the expert. The job of a teacher becomes ever more complex and demanding once one appreciates how profound learning differences are in a class.

This is the learning journey that we are on at ISH. We truly believe that each student is unique and we are working hard to get the best out of each individual student.