28 mars 2012

Individual differences (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

   A phrase reflecting the admirable desire to combine mass schooling with respect for diversity and individuality. 

   An important early use of the phrase was in a manifesto of education, the Cardinal Principles of 1918. The individual differences referred to there were mainly differences in academic preparation and ability, and the accommodation of those differences took the form of ability tracking. 

   Currently, a more egalitarian use of the term implies that children differ in temperament, personality, and the kind of talents they have, and that they have different learning styles and different needs. Children are allowed to proceed "at their own pace," sometimes in multiaged classrooms, and are encouraged to develop their special talents. 
   However, because mass education cannot be organized into individual tutorials, the practical result of the current egalitarian terminology has been de facto ability tracking. 

   Too often, the term "individual differences" can become a rationalization for expecting and demanding less from children for whom we need to provide more support-inherently able students from disadvantaged homes.

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

"banking theory of schooling" 
"culturally-biased curriculum" 
"outcomes-based education" 
"research has shown"

Return to the main page : 
This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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