I believe that schools exist to help learners understand themselves as learners, and to prepare them to learn and work independently, collaboratively, and interdependently.

While I believe there is some importance to what subjects are taught, I do not believe the subject matter is as important as the process of learning, the interest in learning, and the skills of learning, which are crucial. Our society needs learners who know how to think analytically and solve problems. In Curriculum 21, Heidi Hayes Jacobs describes a much-needed mind shift that needs to take place in education: “FROM knowing right answers TO knowing how to behave when answers are not readily apparent.” I don’t see any way to achieve this in a one-size model. By definition, metacognitive education requires differentiation, because we do not all think or process the same as one another.

I also believe that a crucial purpose of schooling is socialization and the development of interpersonal skills. All people are unique individuals, and they vary tremendously in their talents, interests, and styles, but they can learn through education how to work together for the maximum benefit to all.

Differentiated classrooms do more than teach each individual in a way that resonates; differentiated classrooms afford a model in which learners discover crucial truths about a differentiated society, and how to be part of a community.

I have always like the tag line Kathie Nunley uses with her Layered Curriculum: “because every student deserves a special education.”

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