Current initiatives to personalize learning in schools, while seen as a contemporary reform, actually continue a 200+ year struggle to provide scalable, mass, public education that also addresses the variable needs of individual learners. Indeed, some of the rhetoric and approaches reformers are touting today sound very familiar in this historical context. What, if anything, is different this time? In this paper I provide a brief overview of historical efforts to create a scaled system of education for all children that also acknowledged individual learner variability. Through this overview I seek patterns and insights to inform and guide contemporary efforts in personalized learning.