Engaging pedagogies in standard times: The possibilities of personalisation

Year: 2012

Author: Hayes, Deb

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Educational leaders and teachers are engaged in developing pedagogical repertories that are responsive to the needs of individuals and the demands of local schooling markets, while operating within contexts that are increasingly shaped by standardised approaches to content and assessment. Big Picture Learning promotes personalised and flexible approaches to the curriculum which suggest that leaders and teachers in these schools must find different ways of mediating these demands and contexts. The approaches adopted in some Big Picture schools for mediating these demands are described in this paper.

Interestingly, Big Picture learning is being adopted to meet the needs of a broad range of young people, including those who have disengaged from learning and those who remain engaged but are seeking a more flexible and enriching experience.

The adoption of Big Picture learning across a range of sites illustrates an appetite for customisation in local schooling markets, as well as the need to change the curriculum and provide different pedagogical experiences for young people who do not fully engage in formal learning or who disengage from it completely. This paper locates Big Picture within broader educational discourses, particularly those related to the nature and purpose of the curriculum.

Through the use of interviews and observations, as well as documentary analysis, the interest-based approach to the curriculum adopted in the case study schools, which is reminiscent of earlier progressive approaches to learning, is compared with more conventional or subject-based approaches to the curriculum.

The paper concludes with a critical assessment of the purposes of schooling reflected in these different approaches and their relative capacity to meet the vocational needs of young people.