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A Rationale for Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom

Author(s): Paul S. George


Source: Theory into Practice, Vol. 44, No. 3, Differentiated Instruction (Summer, 2005), pp.
185-193
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3496997 .
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THEORY INTO PRACTICE, 44(3), 185-193

Paul S. George

A RationaleforDifferentiating
Instructionin the Regular
Classroom

This articlearticulateswhatmightbe called a conflictinggoals and prioritiesforthoselearners


value-basedargument, a philosophicalstatement, and,consequently, fortheschoolas a whole.To
one thatemphasizesprinciplesand perspectives satisfythese variedand potentially conflicting
that have remainedprecious to the author constituencies, policy-makersand educational
throughout 40 yearsin thefieldofeducation.It is leadersmaysimultaneously supportboththein-
the author'sperspectiveon researchand the clusionofsomestudents andtheremovalofother
schoolexperienceratherthana reviewofthere- studentsfromtheregularclassroom.A profusion
searchliteratureand,as such,strongly a
reflects ofmagnetprograms, charterschools,andvoucher
pointof view.The authorarguesthatheteroge- systems, growing from attemptsto satisfyvaried
neous classroomsand differentiated instruction advocacies,further the
challenges viability ofthe
mustform thecoreof the classroomexperiencefor traditionalpublic school.
studentsina democracy thatworks. A pessimisticforecast, based on theultimate
outcomesofsuchprolonged struggles,
mightsug-
gestthatcitizenswilldiscoverthatpublicschools,
IN THEEARLY21STCENTURY, Americans appear a decade or two ahead,havebecomelittlemore
deeplydividedin a numberofcrucialareasof thanpauperschools servingthe few remaining
nationalconcern.Educationis oneofthosecritical uncategorized students.This scenariomaybe all
areas,sufferingfromtheeffects ofgreatly conten- toolikelyifaffluent parentsandadvocatesofstu-
tious disagreement over goals, strategies,and dentswithperceivedspecialneedsreacha pointof
methodsof accountability forpublicschools.All completedisillusionment withpubliceducation,
overthenation,advocatesforvariousgroupsof withdraw theirchildrenfromconventional public
studentscontinueto differoverwhatappeartobe schools,and join the alreadysizable systemof
quasi-privateand privateeducationbased largely
PaulS. Georgeis a Distinguished
Professor
ofEduca- on theability payorthecapacitytoservespecial
to
tionattheUniversityofFlorida. needs. In thefaceof thesechallenges,educators
Requestsforreprintscanbe senttoPaulS. George, committed to publiceducationmustfindwaysof
2215Norman of
Hall,UniversityFlorida, Gainesville, providing excellence andchallengetoall students,
Florida32611.E-mail:pgeorge@coe.ufl.edu whileintegrating moststudents whenever appro-

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Instruction
Differentiated

priate,intothelifeoftheregularclassroom.Suc- fromothersof theirage thattheywill require


cessforall students is morethana sloganorevena more specialized assistance" than might be
laudablegoal;itmaybe a keytothesurvival ofthe feasiblyprovidedin a regularclassrooms(C.
Americanpublicschool as societyhas come to Tomlinson,personalcommunication, December
knowit.As an educatorwhohasspentmanyyears 15, 2004). That said, differentiating
instruction,
studying thearguments forvariousconfigurations theheterogeneous classroom,and publiceduca-
ofclassroomsandschools,I ampersuadedthatso- tion,are,in myjudgment, all essentialand inex-
lutionstothisnation-wrenching dilemmalie along tricablylinked;any rationalefordifferentiating
twopathways thatI describehere. instruction must focus on why the heteroge-
First,I believethateducatorsmustcontinueto neous,mixed-ability classroomis, in thiscentury
vigorouslysupporta school-levelstructure and too, almostalways preferableto homogeneous
culture thatprizesdiversity inthepublicschools,a grouping in publicschools.Fortunately, thereare
culturethatdemonstrates to parentsthat:(a) their manyreasonswhythoseinvolvedin publicedu-
children aresafe;(b) thereareadultsattheschool cation should continueto favorheterogeneous
whoknowandcareabouttheirchildren;(c) their classroomsas thenexusfortheeducationalsuc-
children aremakingfriends withthe"right kindof cess of virtually
everytypeof student in Ameri-
kids;"(d) their children will getthe attentionand can schools.
supporttheyneed; (e) theirchildren will experi-
encesuccessinsomeimportant way;(f)theirchil-
Goal Consistency
drenenjoylearning andaremotivated tocontinue;
and(g) thechildren arewell-prepared forthenext The heterogeneousclassroom,as we have
levelof educationor work.To accomplishthis,I knownit, providesa learningenvironment that
believethateducatorsmustcontinueto support maybe moreconsistent withournation'sdemo-
school-levelstrategies forenhancingthe educa- craticgoals, wherestudentswho will one day
tion of studentsin heterogeneous classrooms, work,worship,and live togethercan learnto-
strategiesthatpersuadetheirparents thatthetradi- gethertoday,while permitting each to achieve
tionalpublicschoolremainsa viableandattractive educationalsuccess on theirown terms.Thus,
place fortheirchildren tolearn(Renzulli,1999). the heterogeneous classroommay preparestu-
Second,I thinkthateducatorsmustmovefor- dents more effectively for real-lifesituations,
ward,rapidlyandvisibly, inthesuccessfulimple- now and in thefuture. This is important because
mentation of classroom-level strategiesthatpro- thisdiversenationhopesand expectsthatadults
vide differentiated curriculum, instruction,and of all ethnicities
willinteractfrequently andpos-
assessment; strategies that,whenimplemented ef- itivelyin the years to come in the American
fectively,resultin challenging and supporting all workplace,in places of worshipand,ideally,in
students withintheregular, mixed-ability, hetero- the neighborhoods wheretheylive. Justas the
geneousclassroom(Tomlinson, 2001). To failin contributionsof adultsin theworkplaceare ex-
thesetwocloselyrelated,immensely time-sensi- pectedto differin theirimpactandeffectiveness,
tivetasksmaybe to guaranteethatthe sustain- butto do so in a commoneffort, so is learning
abilityof theAmericansystemof publiceduca- expectedto have variableoutcomesdependent
tion,withitslongrichhistory, facesconsiderable on student needsand characteristics.
The hetero-
perilin theverynearfuture. geneousclassroomcan providea real-life labora-
toryforthe development of important interper-
sonal and social knowledge,skills,and attitudes
Whyis theHeterogeneousClassroom essentialto successin adultlife,whilesimulta-
of Crucial Importance? neouslyprovidingopportunity forvariedtypes
and degreesof academic achievement. In my
Therewill,of course,"alwaysbe somelearn- mind,thisalonejustifiesan emphasison thehet-
ers whose learningneeds are so widelyvaried erogeneousclassrooms.

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George A RationaleforDifferentiating
Instruction
intheRegularClassroom

Racial Integration of individual differences. It is possible,therefore,


thatopportunities forindividualgrowthand de-
Sadly,it is currently the case thatadvanced
are maximizedin the heterogeneous
classes in schools still characterizedby rigid velopment
classroom,thatgreateropportunity fordetecting
trackingsystems aredisproportionately composed
latedeveloping talent, orforpreventing premature
ofWhiteandmoreaffluent students; low endand
labeling, is offered there.In an effective hetero-
remedialclassesaredisproportionately composed
classroom (one where curriculum and
ofstudents ofcolorfromlowereconomiccircum- geneous
instruction are properlydifferentiated), students
stances(Lee, Ready,& Welner, 2002; Mickelson,
andteachers, I think, aremorelikelytoviewtheir
2002). The heterogeneous classroom, bycontrast,
differences as assets thatstrengthen the whole
can helpprevent thistypeof undesirable and po- school.Thereare evensome who have said that
tentiallyillegal in-schoolsegregation and isola-
theheterogeneous classroomcan also makethe
tionalongracial,ethnic,or social class lines.In
averagestudent special.Two decadesofresearch
my3 decadesofexperience withthisissue,when
in these situations(when not interpreted from
homogeneous grouping is the primary strategyfor
the pointof advocacyof any particulargroup
organizing students in schoolswithsignificant ra-
of students)does suggestthatthe diverse,het-
cial andethnicdiversity inthestudent population,
classroom can promoteeffective
theresultis almostalwaysdeep,andoftenstarkly erogeneous
on thebasisofrace, peer-to-peer learning,may improvethe self-es-
obvious,divisionsofstudents
teemof all students, and can facilitate an educa-
ethnicity,andsocialclass.Surely,whenwe evalu-
tionforfuturecitizenship(George,Renzulli,&
ate theutilityof homogeneous grouping, evenif
sucha methodled toincreasedacademicachieve- Reis, 1997).
mentfor some students,we would rejectthat
methodoutright iftheresultsofthatmethodledto Effort
schoolswhereracialandclasssegregation became
I believethatclassroomsnotorganizedbynar-
thenorm,evenifitwas notagainstthelaw.
rowgaugesofability canalsomoreeffectively sup-
portan emphasison theimportance of effortand
AccuratePlacement persistence insuccess.Everystudent needstoknow
thatdiligenceis a keyingredient ofpersonalsuc-
Whenstudents learntogether in diverseclass- cess,thatnatural is
ability important butrarelysuf-
rooms,withouttheneed to classifystudentsac- I finditironicthat,
ficient. after 3 decadesofalmost
cordingtotheirability, thereis also muchlessrisk servileadulationof theJapaneseschoolsystem,
of labelingor stigmatizing highor low achievers. Americanshavenotwidelyrealizedthat"endur-
A considerableliterature testifiesto thefrequent ancewithenthusiasm" is recognized byeducators
andlife-alteringerrors thatcancreepintocomplex andparentsin Japanas themostcrucialaspectof
grouping decisionsmadeall tooquicklybyeduca- success(George,1989;LeTendre& Akiba,2001).
torsundervariouspressures (Seyfried, 1998).Em- In anywell-differentiated classroom, American or
phasizingtheheterogeneous classroomcanleadto Japanese, a focusonteacherandstudent responsi-
thereduction oftimeusage,expenditures, ander- bilityforindividual growth emphasizestheimpor-
rorsrelatedto identification and placementof tanceofdiligenceinextending one'sownacademic
students. horizons(Tomlinson, 2003).

AwarenessofIndividualDifferences Equity
I contendthatwhenwholeclasses of students I assertthatwhenstudents
learntogether inhet-
are notorganizedas homogeneously as possible erogeneousclassrooms,thereis a muchgreater
in termsofthepriorachievement of students,
the chancefortheequitabledistribution of teaching
circumstance teachers'awareness talentand otherschoolresourcesin everyclass-
likelyheightens

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Instruction
Differentiated

room (Noguera, 2001). Heterogeneousclass- learningmorethanthestudent whois thought to


roomshelpensurethatall students areexposedto be helped.This is notthecase, of course,when
a complex,enriched curriculum,andtospirited
in- one studentsimplysuppliesanswersto another.
struction.
Such circumstances enhancethelikeli- Elaboratedhelpingmeansthatthehelperengages
hoodthatall students receivetheopportunityfor in complexexplanations, checksthereasoningof
for
adequate preparation rigoroushigh school others, and views issuesfrom variedperspectives
coursesandcollegelife.A greatdeal ofevidence &
(Webb Farivar,1994).
suggeststhatthisis notthecase inhighlygrouped Good teachershaveknownfordecadesof the
classroomenvironments (Stone,1998). wisdominthesayingthat"You don'tlearnituntil
youteachit."The consensusofrecentresearchin
Able Learners learning seems to support the position of
constructivists whoarguethatthebestlearning co-
Heterogeneous classroomsholdparticular ben- mes whenstudents buildtheirownmathematics,
efitsforthemostable learners, benefits thatmay languageskills,orscienceknowledge byarguing,
be less availablein pull-outprograms or strictly challenging,explaining,solvingproblems,and
homogeneousclassrooms.Among these is the having their own ideas examinedby others
possibilitythatlearningto a levelof mastery ap- (Serafino& Cicchelli,2003). Effectively differen-
proachingautomaticity makeseffective acquisi- tiatedclassroomsare characterized by flexible
tionofnewskillsmuchmorelikely. grouping, through whichstudents have opportu-
Some research(Marsh,Chessor,Craven,& nity to make meaningthrough interaction witha
Roche,1995) indicatesthat a giftedstudent'saca- of
variety peers-including those whose readiness
demicself-concept maydeclineduringparticipa- level is currently muchlike theirown. Frequent
tion in traditionalpull-out gifted programs. flexiblegroupingand regroupingshould help
Comparedtotheself-concept ofgiftedstudents in avoida situation in whichrolesbecomefrozenso
heterogeneous classes,students in pull-outgifted thatsomearealwaysthetutor andothersthetutee.
programs maysuffer froma constant comparison
ofthemselves toonlythemostable learners inthe
ContactTheory
school.Able learnersin regularclassroomsmay,
therefore,havea morerealistic,and morefavor- Learnerswho are immersed in thelifeof the
able,pictureofthemselves as students,compared regularclassroomare likelyto realizeimportant
to others.Differentiation providesa varietyof gains in peer acceptanceand social skills.The
waysforall students to feelaffirmed, challenged, longhistory ofcontacttheory inthefieldofsocial
and successful:flexiblegrouping,appropriately psychology (Allport,1954)makesitclearthatthe
challenging tasksforindividuals, andemphasison moreonetypeoflearnerinteracts withothers, the
personalgrowthas one criterion forsuccess.An moreall students arelikelyto thinkofeach other
effectivelydifferentiatedclassroomoffers consis- as friends, emphasizing theirsimilarities as per-
tentopportunities foradvancedlearners to extend sonsrather thantheirdifferences. In suchcircum-
theirknowledge, thought, and skillin exactlythe stances,thebestkindof interpersonal tolerance
same waythatsucha classroomoffers otherstu- flourishes. Othersocialcompetencies essentialfor
dents to advance from their point of entry all students(leadership,communication skills,
(Tomlinson, personalcommunication, December conflictresolutionhabits,and problem-solving
15,2004). strategies)mayfindtheirmostfertile soil inregu-
lar,heterogeneous classrooms(Slavin,1995).
Thereare,then,manygoodreasonsforeduca-
Constructivist Opportunities
tors,and parentsof all children,to preferthe
I believethatwhenstudents, of anyabilityor heterogeneousclassroomin public education.
need,engagein elaboratedhelpingof otherstu- Educatorsseekingsupportfordifferentiating in-
dents,it is the helperwho frequently ends up struction needto be able to clearlyarticulate and

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George A RationaleforDifferentiating
Instruction
intheRegularClassroom

demonstrate through classroomactiontheseben- makegoodgrades,andcausefewdisciplineprob-


efitsto parents,who maybe unawareof theop- lems.In classroomswherea singlecurriculum is
portunitiesavailableto theirchildrenin theregu- coveredby all learners,manyof thesestudents
lar classroom. may find school restrictive, frustrating, and
uninspiring.
In ineffective classrooms,some able learners
WhyMust Instruction receivegood gradeswithminimaleffort and can
in theHeterogeneousClassroom cometo see themselves as impostors whoarenot
be Differentiated? reallyas capableas peoplebelievethemtobe; oth-
ersbecomeaddictedtohighgrades,rather thanfo-
Humans' EssentialDiversity cusingon learningitself.In suchcircumstances,
able learnersmayfailto developstudyand pro-
The bestteachershavealwaysrecognizedthat duction skills appropriatefor their learning
everystudent is uniqueand,to a degree,deserves capacities.
and requiresspecial attention and adaptationof Withoutdifferentiation of instruction, advo-
thelearningexperienceto fitthoseuniqueneeds, cates forthegiftedassert,able learnersmayde-
interests,abilities,and attitudes.In the21stcen- cide thatschoolis a place to be tolerated andthat
tury,however,teachersare beingaskedto work reallearning takesplaceelsewhere. Someofthese
withevermorebroadlydiversegroupsoflearners. students maylose interest indeveloping theirabil-
The Americanpublicschoolis, literally, bursting ities altogether.Othersbecomedisciplineprob-
withdiversity andourawarenessofthatdiversity lems-and as a result,schoolstaffmembersare
increasesapace (Orfield& Kurlaender, 2001). less likelyto perceivethesestudentsas highly
Providingdifferentiated classroominstruction able. In classroomswhereinstruction is appropri-
(i.e.,theadaptation ofclassroomstrategies to stu- atelydifferentiated forlearners, giftedstudents are
dents'different learning andneedsso that
interests morelikelyto feelchallenged, to encounter both
all studentsexperiencechallenge,success,and struggle andsuccess,tobe calledontodevelopad-
satisfaction)thatresponds effectivelytothisdiver- vancedstudyandproduction skills,andtobe able
is
sity absolutely essential.Differentiatedinstruc- to developtheirparticular interests in thecontext
tionproperlyimpliesthe development of class- oftheclassroom(Reis & McCoach,2000).Differ-
rooms in which studentssometimesexercise then,is a key to creating
entiatinginstruction,
variedlearningoptions,workat different paces, learning environments thateffectively accommo-
and are assessedwitha varietyof indicators ap- datethediversity of
typical today'sclassroom, es-
propriate to theirinterestsandneeds(Tomlinson, pecially where the needs of able learners must be
2003). Differentiated instruction,then,can in- accommodated (Tomlinson, 2000).
volvethealteration ofcontent, instruction,andas-
sessment to meettheneedsofuniquelearners.
For Less Able Studentsand Those With
LearningDisabilities
For GiftedLearners
The mainstreaming and inclusionmovements
The AssociationforSupervisionand Curricu- haveplacedat-riskstudents in manyclassrooms,
lumDevelopment program (ASCD, 1994),"Chal- further challengingthe effectivenessof whole
lengingtheGiftedin theRegularClassroom," ar- class instruction.
Methodsthatworkedin a ho-
gued thatdifferentiated instruction
is especially mogenous,trackedclassroomoftenareno longer
important if giftedstudentsare to be placed in effective.
Good teachers,committed to educating
the regular(heterogeneous)classroom.Gifted all studentsin a personalizedand motivational
studentsmayotherwisebe overlookedin teach- way,rejecttheexistenceofone singlebestwayto
er planning,because theyare perceivedto do teachand,instead,aimto accumulatean "arsenal
well in class, exhibittaskpersistence,frequently of approachesappropriate in differentcircum-

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Instruction
Differentiated

stances" (Kilgore, Sindelar,Griffin, & Webb, Rip VanWinklewokeup today,theonlythinghe


In
2002,p. 8). particular, in classeswith largeper- wouldrecognizewouldbe thetypeofteaching go-
centagesoflesssuccessful students, thetraditional ing on in today'sschools.Americanclassrooms
"tell'em-and-test
'em" methods areclearlyinade- remain,in theface of an incredibleinformation
quate. Differentiatinginstruction, as it
difficult overload,placeswheremanyteacherscontinue to
maybe,is thechoiceforteacherswhowillnotac- think oftheirdutyas primarily theprovision ofin-
cepta classroomwheregrowingnumbers of stu- formation bytalking.
dentsareincreasingly less successful. TheodoreSizer(1984) haslongarguedthated-
ucationoughtto be an experiencewherethestu-
dentis theworker. SaysSizer,theresimplyis very
InstructionforDemocracy'sFuture
littlereasonto supportthetraditional conception
Thereis another, equallycompelling,reason ofteachingas primarily theprovision ofinforma-
forsupporting differentiatedinstructionintoday's tion.Teacherscan and shouldassumeimportant
classrooms.Manyeducatorsare increasingly un- newrolesofclassroommanagerandfacilitator of
comfortable withwhattheyperceivetobe thelack learning. Differentiation of instruction becomes
offitbetweenthetraditional classroomexperience an important strategyforachievingnewrolesand
and theneedsof tomorrow's citizens,especially relationships in theclassroom.
thosewhooughtto reasonably be expectedto as-
sumepositionsof leadership(Kohn,2004). The
traditional
teacher-centeredclassroom, dominated
The NatureoftheLearningProcess
by whole-classinstruction and a singlecurricu-
lum,maycreatea culturein whichstudents de- Neithereducatorsnor policy-makers seem
pendon theteacherforeverything, do nothing on pronetodevotemuchattention tohowthelearning
theirowninitiative,andstrive tokeepup (orback) processactuallyunfolds,shortof frenetic activi-
withtherestoftheclass.Thiscan happen,unfor- tiesfocusedon driving up scoreson standardized
tunately,even in manyadvanced,honors,and testsofacademicachievement. The "laws"ofthe
giftedclasses,wheretheobjectivesof primarily learningprocesshave notbeen suspended,how-
learningmore,faster, arestilloutofstepwiththe ever,simplybecausethelearning processreceives
needsofstudents whowillbe tomorrow's leaders, littleattention.A century ofinvestigating thepro-
independent thinkers,researchers, professionals, cess whereby human learningdevelops has
and artists.Such classroomscan rewardconfor- yieldeda paradigmacceptedby virtually all who
mity, when nonconformity may be a more critical have studiedthe &
process(Glaser Bassok,1989;
outcome.Traditional teacher-centered classrooms Winch,2002). I believethata clearunderstanding
may reinforce other-directedness, when self-di- ofthisparadigm-howlearning happensmostef-
rectionis thekeyto increasedmotivation and a fectively, andmeaningfully-strongly
efficiently,
broadenedsenseof personaland social responsi- supports thepracticeofdifferentiating instruction.
bility(ASCD, 1994;Kohn,2004). The consensusof thatscholarshipgenerally
suggeststhatthefoundation ofmeaningful human
learning begins withwhatmightbe calleddeeply
Knowledgeand Information
feltneedsor,perhaps,intrinsic individualneeds
An additionalmotivefor differentiating in- (McCombs,2003). Such needs are thegenuine,
structionhas todo withwhatis commonly termed basic requirements of theactualizedhumanlife,
theknowledge explosionandtheinformation rev- relatedfirstto survival, thento relatedness, com-
olutionthathas accompaniedit.MostAmericans petence,a successidentity, eventheneedforthe
arefamiliarwiththeeffects ofbothoftheseforces presenceof beautyandjoy in one's life.Human
on thelivesofAmericans in almosteveryfacetof learning happensas a resultofthepresenceof,and
life-excepttheclassroom.Ithasbeensaidthatif in serviceto, intrinsic,
deeplyembedded,some-

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George A RationaleforDifferentiating intheRegularClassroom
Instruction

whatidiosyncratic humanneedswhichinsistently able ends.If we continueto act as ifthelaws of


demandtobe met(Rogers,1969). learningdo notexist,we will,as ithas beenwrit-
It is thesedeeplyfeltneeds,then,thatlead di- ten,reapthewhirlwind.
rectlyto, and the
provide impetusfor, genera- the
tionof authentic individualinterests in each per-
son. These authentic interests are, a sense,the
in Conclusion
resultofan individual's persistent scanningofthe
environment witha constant andeagereyetoward Changingone'sinstructional styleandcapabil-
thesatisfaction oftheneedsthatgaverisetothein- ityis mucheasierto talkaboutthanitis todo, as
terests.Intereststhatare needs driven,in their difficult as it is essential.Many teachersseem
turn,giveriseto motivation to learn;humansare quite willingto continuewith the traditional
motivated, primarily if not exclusively, to learn teacher-directed, wholeclass instructional model,
whatmatchestheirindividual interests and,there- eveniftheyharbordeep uncertainties abouttheir
fore,helps themmeet theirdeeplyfeltneeds. fundamental effectiveness. Further, fewteachers
School learning,withoutthiskindof authentic havethetime,energy, or support formakingsub-
motivation, can be stupifyingly dull,irritatingly stantialchangesin how theyteach,let alone the
distracting, and of short duration, occurring only opportunity to arriveat a determination to do so.
withtheaccompaniment ofvarying levelsofbrib- This is a real professional dilemma.On theone
ery,coercion,and fear (Kohn, 1999; Rogers, hand,manyeducatorsand policy-makers strenu-
1969). I am for
persuadedthat, centuries, when ously and publicly affirm thatdiverse classrooms
teachershavemadeearnestattempts to showstu- are best,while acknowledging thatsuch class-
dentstheconnections betweenthecurriculum and roomsonlyworkwellwhenall students, including
thethingsstudents careabout,andwhenteachers themostable learners, experience challenge,suc-
createdcurriculum thatinspiresauthentic newin- cess,andsatisfaction. On theotherhand,everyre-
terestsin students, students haverespondedwith flectiveeducatorknowshowhardit is to change
energy, enthusiasm, andfocus. thewayone teaches;movingfromvirtually total
Thislongexperience in educationclearlyindi- relianceon whole-classinstruction to doinga sat-
cates that-because humanneeds,interests, and isfactoryjob ofdifferentiating instruction willre-
motivation areso dizzyingly idiosyncratic, evenin quire morethanwishfulthinking or traditional
schoolsettings-significant learning(thatwhich staff development. Abandoning theheterogeneous
is personally meaningful, satisfying, transferable, classroomwillcertainly seemeasier.
andlonglasting)mustbe,absolutely mustbe,me- The heterogeneous classroom,however,is a
diatedby thedifferentiation of instruction (Rog- central,critical,indispensable factorforaccom-
ers, 1969; Tomlinson,2000). Add thefollowing plishingthetraditional missionof theAmerican
ingredients to thislearningmix:theinfluence of publicschool.Differentiating instruction is,inthe
intelligence, thepowerof priorachievement, the sameway,essentialforaccomplishing successful
existenceof a rangeof specificlearningstyles, learning intheheterogeneous classroom.Without
personality, peergroupinfluences, andtheimpact differentiation of instruction,the heterogeneous
ofhomelifeandsocialcontext. Itis quiteimpossi- classroomwill likelypass away and authentic
ble to imaginethatreal, permanent, productive learning willalsoperish;without suchclassrooms,
learningexperiences, letalonethosesimpleones publicschoolsof thefuture are farless likelyto
connected to statestandards, couldhappenin any servethedemocratic purposesforwhichtheywere
context otherthanoneinwhichthedifferentiation designed.BecauseI believethatthepublicschools
ofinstruction figuresprominently. Sadly,thesere- havebeenthefoundation ofthenation'sgreatness,
alitiesdo notappearto detersomeeducatorsand I findverylittleappealincontemplating sucha fu-
manypolicy-makers fromtheirquesttodrivestan- ture,forourschools,ourchildren, or ourselves.I
dards-basedreform to its inevitableand predict- believe,however, thattherearerealisticstrategies

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Instruction
Differentiated

thatcan help teacherscreatediverseclassrooms demicself-concept: Thebigfishstrikes again.Amer-


whereauthentichumanlearningis served,and icanEducationalResearchJournal, 32, 285-320.
whereall students and meaning-
are successfully McCombs,B. (2003). A framework fortheredesignof
K-12 educationinthecontext ofcurrent educational
fullychallenged.I believethattheprofession
can
reform. Into
Theory Practice, 42, 93-101.
and mustmovein thisdirection, and mustdo so
Mickelson,R. (2002, August).The academic conse-
withoutsimplyand loudlyimploring teachersto andsegregation: Evidence
quencesofdesegregation
makeimpossible, Herculean,changesin theirin- fromCharlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Paper pre-
structionalstyleand blamingthem,even more sentedat theConferenceon theResegregation of
loudly,whentheycannot. SouthernSchools, University of NorthCarolina
Chapel Hill. RetrievedDecember15, 2004 from
http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.Edu/researc
reseg02/mickelson.pdf
References Noguera,P. (2001). Racialpoliticsandtheelusivequest
forexcellenceand equityin education.Education
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