Differentiation Is Another Name for Good Teaching Practice

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

In his Jan. 7, 2015, Commentary on differentiated instruction ("Differentiation Doesn't Work"), James R. Delisle makes a number of baffling claims in his facile dismissal of the practice, which he does not attempt to define and seems to confuse with the separate issue of ability grouping. I am wholly unconvinced by the piece.

He quotes one researcher as saying that, three years after extensive professional development was provided to help teachers differentiate their instruction, "no one was actually differentiating." If by that, it is implied that the teachers were making no distinctions between their students in their pedagogical practice, I'd suggest that these are not teachers worthy of the name.

Later, Mr. Delisle cites a 2008 Thomas B. Fordham Institute study that reported that 83 percent of teachers in a nationwide survey said "differentiation is 'somewhat' or 'very' difficult' "to implement. How is that different from any good teaching practice?

I'm no fan of our profession's propensity for jargon and the never-ending quest for one simple solution, but perhaps I understand differentiation differently. I see it as another name for the art of good teaching, which requires the teacher to pay attention to each student and tailor instruction accordingly. And that is a pedagogical practice—no matter what we call it—that has been around since before Socrates asked his first question.

John C. Gulla
Executive Director
Edward E. Ford Foundation
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Vol. 34, Issue 20, Page 24

Published in Print: February 4, 2015, as Differentiation Is Another Name For Good Teaching Practice
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories