Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Long "Tale" of Differentiation

A very smart colleague of mine told me about The Long Tail which he had just read. I am planning on reading it, but just this morning I was thinking to myself what the implications of this commerical idea were on education. The core idea of the book (from what my friend tells me) is that the internet has now created a world in which money is made selling fewer quantities of greater variety. Very different from the old model where limited shelf space dictated that retailers stock whatever is most popular.

Is this not the very core idea of differentiation in the classroom? If successful learning is the "product" we sell then instead of providing a teaching method that "works best for the most people", can we not use technology and other resources to provide "product" for everyone? Differentiated classrooms should have a Long Tail of teaching styles and resources so that no matter how particular or individual the learner, there will be successful learning available to him or her.

I have to think this through more and perhaps this has been thought out before and most certainly, I have to read the book! But The Long Tail idea is very pertinent to education and particularly applicable to differentiation.

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