Some people think that governments should give financial support to creative artists such as painters and musicians.
I was at the time one of the many post-war baby boomers, attending a suburban Detroit elementary school with eight kindergartens in one building.
I had little understanding of what it would have been like to attend a one-room school in Kansas. I was most interested in how my mom walked to school early every morning to stoke up the wood stove before the children arrived.
And I also liked hearing about how my four-foot-ten-inch mother managed those big, rough farm boys. I do not remember being terribly interested in how she taught a multi-age, multi-gender, multi-ability, and multi-interest group of very diverse students.
Today, as I begin my 29th year of teaching, my greatest teaching challenge is meeting the needs of my very diverse students, even though I teach in a setting that is far more homogeneous than that of my mother and a whole generation of one-room schoolhouse teachers.
I wonder if they debated whether or not all of their students deserved equal attention, resources, and quality of teaching. However, it would be only fair to admit that teaching today is a bit more complicated.
We are asked to do everything from educating and getting the nation's children ready for the world of work, higher education, global citizenship, sexual responsibility, intelligent consumerism, to remembering that they come to school hungry, lacking sleep, unfamiliar with functional families, and sometimes even homeless.
And now we are faced with the specter of more and more high-stakes state and national standardized testing responsibilities and accountabilities. What are we and our children supposed to do? I believe those early one-room schoolhouse teachers would tell us to simply to teach the children.
Ah… We can breathe a sigh of relief. All we really have to do is teach our children. All of our children.
That is the ethical, and moral, and in some cases legal, imperative. Teach all of our children. Well, it is simple, and it isn't. Once the imperative is lodged in your heart, that all children deserve to have a good education, the rest is just logistics, but logistics that are complicated and often difficult to manage.
So let's take a look at how and why we should do this in an inclusive, heterogeneous setting.
And for efficiency, let's label this kind of teaching differentiating your instruction. DIVERSE LEARNERS If you teach in a progressive elementary or middle school, it is likely that you already differentiate your instruction—working to teach a heterogeneous mix of students that includes mainstreamed special education students, a mixture of "average" kids, and a sprinkling of what we sometimes refer to as "the gifted.
And the choice of labels goes on and on. Tracking There are many ways that schools designate what "track" a student should be in while attaining a high school education.
But there are some significant basic truths about schools that practice tracking, including the elementary and middle schools or junior highs where this is still practiced. One basic truth is that once a student is placed in one of the tracks, he or she seldom moves to another one.
If movement does occur, it is traditionally down. The highest track of students is often assigned the most adept and experienced teachers.
And as a teacher in a complex and often volatile world, I fearfully acknowledge what studies are telling us about our past tracking of our children. Tracking has had a tendency to create alienation, elitism, and intolerance.
These works are written in a manner that makes them easy to read and refer to. Every one of them raised my pulse rate and made my heart beat faster. What more could you ask for in a good read? They made me excited about teaching and encouraged me to do better.
For me, the practical applications and justification for de-tracking all come from this bibliography, my years of teaching experience, and my mother.Chapter XXVII Of Identity and Diversity 1. Wherein identity consists. Another occasion the mind often takes of comparing, is the very being of things, when, considering anything as existing at any determined time and place, we compare it with itself existing at another time, and thereon form the ideas of identity and diversity.
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