The problem with our current models of differentiation?

Posted in Inspiration & Ideas

What impact are the headings ‘UA’, ‘MA’ and ‘LA’ having upon your childrens’ progress? (And are we talking about this enough?)

A very good friend of mine who is training to be a teacher visited me this weekend. We spent a lot of our time reflecting upon what she’s learning and what’s working well. The issue of ‘differentiation’ came up almost immediately and how the models being used in most Maths classes in the UK seem not to serve the needs of our children effectively at all.

We reflected upon the impact of putting children into groups and labelling them ‘high ability’, ‘middle ability’ and ‘low ability’ and this then affected both their attainment and children’s views as learners.

I often wonder along these lines…..

If I wasn’t a very proficient cook (yet) and wanted to be, would being in a group made up of other ‘non-cooks’ help me improve?

When I share this anecdote on training people usually laugh as it seems so ridiculous. Thoughts are that those of us in this group would stop caring about cooking as, no matter how hard we tried, we wouldn’t have anyone to learn from. It wouldn’t be a reflection upon our actual ‘ability’ but we’d definitely look ‘low attaining’. I wonder if the decision then should be that we need just the basics first? Chopping onions? Measuring rice? We agree we’d be much more motivated to learn these things if someone showed us a meal which needed chopped onions and rice such as a lovely risotto! Might we get fed up of ‘basics’ without application or a motivating end point?

Alternatively, if I was able to watch other cooks, who broke down what they were doing and explained it to me, and I could ask questions and try things and coupled this with an attitude which said ‘I don’t expect to be as good as you at this stage. I have a lot of hard work to still to do‘ I think I’d be far more motivated to learn.

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  • Thank you for showing us HOW to change. So many courses just tell us what isn't working but not how to go about addressing this. Your approaches make so much sense! Thank you.

  • Just to say thank you again for 3 really brilliant talks at SGIS. We're a small school near Basel and we’d be interested in anything you’re doing nearby (Zurich way) so please let us know!

  • Well pitched. Excellent presentation. Learned lots!