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Dumbing Down

This is a deliberately negative nickname for the ‘cheapest’ packaging method. It involves
devising standard tasks for the majority of the class, then watering them down for the ‘least
able’. The snag is that these ‘differentiated tasks’ are often very low level, deliberately so in
order for ‘special needs’ pupils to cope with them without demanding too much help from the
teacher. It’s easy to see why this approach is used - it’s convenient and it does keep
everyone occupied. However, it raises serious questions about quality of learning.

A clearer understanding of learning styles and intelligences usually helps to create a more
sophisticated view of a pupil’s abilities. It is important not to confuse a pupil’s presently poor
reading and writing capabilities with her general ability or potential.

Tasks do not have to be banal in order to cater for low level reading and writing skills.
Seeking to design tasks that suit the learning styles of pupils will usually start the creative

Here is an example OF “Dumbing down” in a lesson:

Dumbing Down Example: JESUS YEAR 9

Feeding of the Five Thousand

Put these sentences into the correct order and them copy them into your book.

• One day Jesus was followed by a large crowd.

• The People were hungry.

• There were only 5 loaves and 2 fish.

• Jesus worked a miracle so that all the people were fed.

• It began to get very late.

• Jesus told the disciples to feed the people with their own food.

• There were 5000 people to feed.

Ask your teacher for a picture to go with this work. Stick it in your book and colour it.
Write a sentence to go with the picture. Label it with these words: Jesus / boat /
disciple / sea.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem

Jesus was very popular. He did many wonderful things. Crowds followed him. They
wanted Jesus to be king. One day, Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem. He rode there on a
donkey. Many people came to see Jesus. They were very excited. They waved palm leaves
and covered the road with their coats.
1. Copy out these sentences, filling in the gaps. You will find the words in the
sentences you have just read.
• Jesus rode into J--------.

• He was greeted by many p-----

• People threw their c---- on the road.

• They waved p--- l-----.

• People wanted Jesus to be k---.

Today, Christians remember this special event on Palm Sunday. Each person is given a
cross made from palm leaf.

2. Make a cross out of card. Stick it into your exercise book. Decorate it with
a picture of Jesus riding on a donkey.

From: RE Department of a reputable school ‘up north’.