Improving Maine’s Business Climate Through Customized Learning

Maine’s business climate faces numerous challenges–high taxes, overzealous regulations, rising energy costs, etc.  Today’s business environment also requires a dynamic, well-educated workforce that can keep up with far-flung competitors such as China or Germany.

Today’s children are growing-up in an age where their smartphone can be customized to their own interests and personalities.  They can literally choose from tens of thousands of free or low-cost “apps” to install on their phone.

Unfortunately, today’s children cannot get the same customization when it comes to their educational curriculum.  They are still spending their days in a classroom with 20 other students learning the same material at the same speed.  Yet, most, if not all, have their smartphones in their backpack of which no two will be alike.

If customization can work for smartphones, then customization can work for education–call it Customized Learning.  Customized learning is a student-focused system where kids enroll in the curriculum which best meets their educational needs.

Customized learning is not new and, in fact, is at the heart of Maine’s well-rooted educational  history going back to the days of town academies. Unfortunately, this individualized method of education never  fully flourished to its full potential where every Maine child could thrive in a customized learning environment.

More than ever, Maine needs creative solutions for today’s kids. As I have discussed in a previous blog post, Maine now faces a “Demographic Winter” where a shrinking number of children threatens the very sustainability of the current population level and economy.

As a consequence, falling student enrollments will mean fewer educational opportunities for today’s children. Yet, specialized career interests, Gifted and Talented programs, apprenticeship opportunities, foreign language courses and more are all what make individual schools unique—almost as unique as the individual needs of our children.

For the sake of our kids and for the sake of Maine’s future, customized learning is the best way to grow our students and our economy. Already a few tentative steps have been taken toward building a greater customized  learning environment with the recent introduction of charter schools and online learning. More still needs to be done, but Maine is on the right track.

To learn more, check out MHPC’s new study titled “The Past and Present of Customized Learning in Maine” and watch the video below.