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Educators have been working to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms since long before Carol Ann Tomlinson's day, although this work hasn't always been described as the familiar "DI." In December 1953, Educational Leadership devoted an issue to the theme "The Challenge of Individual Difference."
Real DI junkies can peruse the whole issue, with articles such as "Matching Ten Reading Levels in One Classroom" and "Teaching the Individual Adolescent," but the casual historian would be well-served to check out the lead article, "Adjusting the Program to the Child," by Carleton W. Washburne.
Read the article: Adjusting the Program to the Child (PDF)
Washburne takes the reader through a short history of reform efforts aimed at making education more individualized, beginning with the efforts of charismatic educator Preston Search, of Pueblo, Colo., and proceeding through the work of Frederic Burk, who "started a movement to make textbooks self-instructive and enable children, systematically, to progress according to their own ability." From the Project Method to ability grouping, Washburne's history shows how evolving understanding of learning and development shapes educators' efforts to meet the needs of all students.
In "My Back Pages," we look at important issues through the historical lens of the Educational Leadership archives. ASCD members can access EL issues from 1943 to the present by signing in at the right.
David Snyder is a reference librarian in ASCD's Information Resource Center.
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