Essay on Learners Being Passive, Lacking Independence, And Accepting

Essay on Learners Being Passive, Lacking Independence, And Accepting

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“The concept of differentiation is itself differentiated and refracted through a host of different lenses – intrapersonal, interpersonal, cognitive, affective, behavioural, cultural, and so on” (Cohen et al. 2004, p. 137). This vast range of factors inherent of how teachers plan to support their pupils’ individual needs was also observed in the school where this writer works. However, with it being an educational institution where all pupils are Chinese nationals and English is their second language, it is not always easy to identify each pupil’s individual education needs. This can be explained by the stereotype of “Chinese learners being passive, lacking independence, and accepting, largely unquestioningly, the knowledge and authority of the teacher” (Cross and Hitchcock, 2007 p. 4). In spite of that, the school has been able to differentiate how the learners are grouped, based on their English language abilities. On one hand the pupils that have better English have the opportunity to study higher level courses from the beginning of grade 10 and are also fast tracked and able to take a greater number of courses at once with the intention of making their college applications more interesting. On the other hand, the learners who have weaker language abilities take fewer subject courses and have a higher load of English language lessons. In order to ensure high engagement levels and optimized learning across all learners, from the weakest to the strongest, teachers must be capable to identify the ‘zone of proximal development’ in students - the distance between the actual and potential intellectual, social, cognitive, emotional development in the student (Cohen et al., 2004, p. 136)

Wright (2007, pp. 130-131) mentions several app...

... middle of paper ...

... of the weaker learners to participate in the plenary during the open class feedback.

A magic recipe of how lessons should be differentiated does not exist. Different learners have different needs and effective differentiation can only happen if the teacher is able to accurately assess the students’ needs. Many educators do so without realizing. When asked about what differentiation strategies he/she used in his/her class, the math teacher from the example above seemed unaware of everything he/she had done. Although for that teacher differentiation sounded fancy and sophisticated, in fact it was a practice that the he/she, without realizing, had naturally embedded in his/her lessons. A list of differentiation routines is also a list of good classroom practices (Wright, 2007, p.130). “Good teaching and differentiation are almost synonymous” (Wright, 2007, p.130).

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