Looking Again, and More Deeply

A Lesson:

In my previous post, one of the points I touched upon had to do with CAST and its Universal Design for Learning. I don’t know much about it except what I have read and heard, having never actually seen UDL in use in the classroom. I mostly based my response on what I heard onlanguagelabunleashed’s interview with David Rose, CAST’s founding director. While I much admire CAST’s principles and mission to make classroom learning accessible to all students no matter their learning needs–a movement they have really led in this country– I did wonder aloud about whether you could really pull it off in our current educational system–do teachers have the time and energy to bring one more thing into their classrooms, especially if it means more for teachers to learn and to orchestrate.

David Rose left me a comment that has made me rethink that part of my post–and remember how easy it is to blog poorly. I realize that I was writing merrily away on my blog about something before I really took a careful, measured look at it. Whoops. Not my style. Sorry about that, David.

And that’s both the beauty and the bother of blogs: the beauty because we’re in conversation, and I can post my reaction to an interview and have it changed by David’s response; the bother, because I or anyone can say whatever it is we like without perhaps thinking deeply or doing adequate research. While I still hold that our teachers are overwhelmed, I don’t know enough about what a UDL classroom really looks like (I’d love to visit one in action) to make the kinds of statements as I did in my last post. Lesson learned (and an important one for my students to note). And of course the truth is that I try to teach from all angles, to every learner, so I’m sure that my classroom looks a little like what CAST is pioneering, just without the help of useful tools– with me working to get a bunch of college kids to draw, dance, speak, write, look, listen, and move as they circle in to their own ways of learning. Ha. So I’m glad to have my thinking pushed and my writing held up to scrutiny like that. And I have a lovely example to show my students about what NOT to do–and they will, I am sure, love the fact that I was the careless one. Ouch.

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One Response

  1. I’m still not convinced that it is in everyone’s (anyone’s?) best interests to try to teach learners with special needs in a main stream classroom. Highly gifted children need to move on apace, lower performing children need more time. Dyslexic children need one approach, hearing impaired another. Colour-coded illustrations will be lost on some children, while others may lack the physical dexterity to carry out some tasks. Children with behavioural, social or emotional problems may struggle at times to learn at all, and are occasionally apt to hijack the entire lesson.

    How can one teacher possibly cater to all of these children in one classroom? I’m sure it’s terribly politically incorrect, but I can’t help feeling that specialist teachers with particular skills would be better able to teach those unable to cope with/bored by the mainstream.

    How heartbreaking it must be for a parent with a child buckling under the weight of the national curriculum. Or for the parent whose child is labelled a trouble maker, when the poor kid is bored witless. In another class, that lower performing child could be given a different perspective on his achievements, and the exceptionally bright lad could be challenged on a daily basis. Both would receive an education more in keeping with their abilities and both would cease to be a disruption to the mainstream classroom.

    I don’t know – am I missing something?

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