Opinion
Curriculum Letter to the Editor

Differentiation Is Another Name for Good Teaching Practice

February 03, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.

A version of this article appeared in the February 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as Differentiation Is Another Name For Good Teaching Practice

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Transform Teaching and Learning with AI
Increase productivity and support innovative teaching with AI in the classroom.
Content provided by Promethean
Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.
School & District Management Webinar Fostering Student Well-Being with Programs That Work
Protecting student well-being has never been more important. Join this webinar to learn how to ensure your programs yield the best outcomes.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum The Case for Curriculum: Why Some States Are Prioritizing It With COVID Relief Funds
States are helping districts select improved curriculum and integrate it into learning recovery strategies.
5 min read
Images shows a data trend line climbing high and going low.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Curriculum Many Adults Did Not Learn Media Literacy Skills in High School. What Schools Can Do Now
Eighty-four percent of adults say they are on board with requiring media literacy in schools, according to a survey by Media Literacy Now.
4 min read
Image of someone reading news on their phone.
oatawa/iStock/Getty
Curriculum Is Your School Facing a Book Challenge? These Online Resources May Help
Book challenges are popping up with more frequency. Here are supports for teachers fighting censorship.
5 min read
Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family and education programs at the Utah Pride Center, poses with books that have been the subject of complaints from parents in recent weeks on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City.
Amanda Darrow, the director of youth, family, and education programs at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City, poses with books that have been the subject of complaints from parents in recent weeks.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
Curriculum Q&A These Teachers' Book List Was Going to Be Restricted. Their Students Fought Back
The Central York district planned to restrict use of some materials last year. Here's how teachers and their students turned the tide.
8 min read
Deb Lambert, director of collection management for the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library for the past three years, looks over the books at the Library Services Center on Sept. 25, 2015. When a flap occurs at the library, the matter becomes the responsibility of Lambert.
More districts are seeking to restrict access to some books or remove them from classrooms and libraries altogether.
Charlie Nye/The Indianapolis Star via AP