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February 2010 | Volume 67 | Number 5
Meeting Students Where They Are
Carol Ann Tomlinson
"I used to have four theories about raising children. Now I have four children, and no theories." That's a line Bill Moyers once used to introduce a video series. I still recall it years later because it says something important about teaching. Like parents, most teachers enter the classroom full of theories and then find themselves jettisoning many of their theories and adjusting others as they confront the real world.
It's important, of course, to be grounded in theory, research, and an understanding of effective classroom practice. But it's equally important to remember that those things are heuristic rather than algorithmic in nature. Heuristics say, "In general, this idea has merit." Algorithms are recipes; they say, "Follow these steps and you'll achieve a guaranteed outcome."
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Copyright © 2010 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
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