The Pathology of Technology


Friday, April 18, 2008

Do we really want everyone to succeed?

Ira Sokol asks on his blog: "Wouldn't Universal Design - that joining together of differentiated instruction, new information and communication technologies, and learner-directed education seem the obvious solution to a diverse community with diverse starting points and diverse ongoing needs?" Yes, Ira, it would. You've summarized decades of research in individualization and differentiation, as well as the justification for same.

Ira goes on to say that, "Nothing quite matches the rhetoric of "we'll get everyone to succeed" better than an educational design which abandons the industrial model for a humanist, flexible alternative. But - UDL is not only not embraced, it is barely considered." While this is the apparent state of affairs, it is not entirely accurate, as there are pockets of UDL implementation that are quite successful, and many others who are in various phases of implemenation of using digital tools to support their differentiation initiatives. What is less apparent, but perhaps more insidious, is why do Response to Intervention and Differentiated Instruction get more attention at policy, budgetary, and implementation levels than does UDL? Do the others have a better agent? More political pull? Easier to understand because they do not focus on brain research? OR could it be that Ira Sokol is correct as he opines that:

"We don't get there because we really don't want everyone to succeed. And certainly those 'in power' don't want everyone to succeed. Only when we admit that, do all the attitudes which run through American education begin to make sense."

Mr. Sokol is indeed pushing the envelope of understanding and questioning the most basic values of our society. Whether the context is UDL or Differentiation or Reading instruction - he raises a most provocative point: what are we doing that proves him wrong?

Through the Looking Glass