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How Personalized Learning Can Lead to Success

Lecturer Todd Rose discusses what we can learn from "dark horses" and how personalized learning can put students on the path to success.
How Personalized Learning Can Lead to Success

There is not one tried and true path to success, says Lecturer Todd Rose, but how can we find our own way — and help our children and students do the same? The answer, says Rose, may lie with the Dark Horses.

“There’s all these people who are successful that no one sees coming,” he says, referring to those who follow less traditional paths on their way to personal success. “Maybe there’s something we can learn from them.”

What all "dark horses" have in common is not training nor personality, says Rose, but instead a sense that their fulfillment it what matters most. In allowing themselves to pursue what motivates them personally, they are able to reach high levels of success in their chosen fields. But translating this lesson to the current education norms in which standardization plays a huge part is, admits Rose, easier said than done. What’s more, the reluctance to make changes is understandable.

“If we narrow our view of success to test scores and grades [as many do now] … at least we have a way to know we are doing right by all kids,” says Rose, noting that need for equity and fairness remains vital in schools. “When it becomes about personal fulfillment, it gets a little harder.”

Eventually, Rose hopes, education will be based less on standards and more on personalized instruction that is responsive to the individuality of all kids. In the meantime, teachers and parents can work within the current system to help children identify what truly motivates them.

“I think this is where we have to go in education, and I think educators are ready for it,” says Rose, “but the system just hasn’t been designed for it yet.”

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Rose, author of Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment, looks toward a future where personalized learning is the standard in schools and discusses how parents and teachers can support children in discovering and understanding their own motivation.

About the Harvard EdCast

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly podcast featuring brief conversations with education leaders and innovative thinkers from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Jill Anderson, the EdCast is a dynamic space for discourse about problems and transformative solutions in education, shining a light on the compelling people, policies, practices, and ideas shaping the field. Find the EdCast on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher


An education podcast that keeps the focus simple: what makes a difference for learners, educators, parents, and communities

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