Posted the following comment to Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialog blog at EdWeek in response to his post “Could School be Both Too Easy AND Too Hard?”
Hi Anthony. Your post underscores multiple challenges involved in a public education system designed to serve an amazingly diverse population, especially if there is an expectation for a unified view of any one course, teacher, school, and etcetera, much less similar outcomes. I say ‘amazingly diverse’ since student differences span cognitive, emotional, social, cultural, economic / class, and physical domains, to name a few. In addition, concepts such as learning styles and multiple intelligences show increased uniquenesses in students, which manifest themselves in classrooms. Given the vastness of these process inputs, is it no wonder process outcomes, or observations about the process, itself, differ? Is it even possible to meet the same perception of anything from a set of students, whether they be adults or adolescents? Other than for an extreme act, or single event, I cannot recall any classroom where the distilled perception of the course or teacher was the same for all students. Does anyone?
In terms of what students perceive as hard versus easy, I experienced a similar phenomenon to the Oakland science teacher whose students perceived their prior year teacher’s methods to be easier than his reasoning and sense-making approach. It took a while, however, these same students came to realize that a broader approach is superior to a more narrow approach if true understanding is the goal.