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What is so personal about learning?

October 25, 2018


Several weeks ago I attended a hand lettering class at our public library. The instructor pinned to the board many different examples of hand lettering quotes. She had done beautiful work. My first thought was, “I can’t do that!”


The instructor led our group through a step-by-step process. She demonstrated how to hold the marker and how to make the letters so there was enough room on the paper to do shading. Then she showed a simple way to make a banner. As I followed her steps and continued to practice during the class time, I started to get the hang of hand lettering. It was fun and relaxing!


The next week I bought a couple of new pens and a box of markers just for me! Hands off kids! Then I practiced. I practiced while watching TV. I practice while sitting on our bed listening to a podcast. Last Sunday I felt I was good enough at doing several different styles of lettering that I hand letter a quote. The picture on this post is my creation from last weekend. I go for progress, not perfection. I posted a picture of the quote on my Instagram and got a few hearts.


I challenge you to think about a time you learned something new. Something that took a bit of practice before it started to come together. A project where you felt like you were in the flow, could lose time and the action was providing you joy. That is personalized learning in a nutshell.


Personalized learning is not new in the world of education.


Personalized Learning can be defined as learning in which the pace and the approach of learning are adjusted for the needs of each learner. Plus the learning activities are meaningful, driven by interests, and often self-initiated by each learner.


Personalized Learning (PL) may be called differentiated, student-centered, or self-directed learning. Each one of the approaches is dependent on the amount of student choice and voice allowed by the classroom teacher.


I have been a long-time advocate of personalized learning for children because it allows the child to learn through his or her own interests and develop at his or her own pace. I believe learning is a personal endeavor and can be an adventure!


Personalized learning is a great way for students and teachers to lean into strengths! PL is built upon students becoming aware of his or her talents and using the experiences to build those talents into strengths.


PL can be a great way for children and teens to become more self-aware. Self-aware of innate talents, learning styles and environments that support his or her learning. The more awareness by the student the more neuro learning circuits being developed in the brain. Through personalized learning, children can become self-advocates for developing their own understanding and educators can support the students in becoming confident and capable learners.


I come back to my endeavor of learning hand lettering. I know my hand lettering class was PL for me. I made the choice to attend the class, practice the lettering styles and buy the tools I needed for the project. When I was working on my project, I was lost in the flow, having fun, and mastering the process.


Practicing my hand lettering also helps me to learn some vital mindsets such as:

  • Perfect is good, but done is better.
  • I am not good at hand lettering, yet.
  • Keep practicing and it will come.
  • No growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.


Plus I am building my innate talents by learning a new process, developing creative ideas and determining the arrangement of my next project.


Don’t be too surprised that I am on to another hobby or project sometime soon. I am aware I enjoy the process of learning and I don’t feel I have to be an expert to be fulfilled. My hand lettering project has helped me to become more aware of my talents and through spending time doing something I enjoy I am building my talents into strengths.


So as a parent, educator, teen or young adult, how do you support your own personalized learning?