This is an interesting little book that frames differentiation in classrooms within a very loose structure of brain research. It is not specifically aimed at educational psychologists (EPs). However, the content would be extremely valuable to support training sessions with groups of staff so they can rethink their approach and develop some understanding for the advice and recommendations we make in our day-to-day work with pupils and students.
It is full of homilies, good advice and -˜tips-for-teachers' and I think, in that category it is a good mix of fact and `artefact'. There are three salient points I think worth reiterating from the many ideas and examples quoted. Firstly the issue of differentiation is a universal need to enable curricular access to everyone in our school communities; secondly that multi-modal or multi-sensory approaches are insufficiently used despite good intentions and a limited appreciation of learning styles; and thirdly, as Kaufeldt reiterates, the multiple intelligence model seems to fit all our classrooms and pupils better than a narrow transmission model. I know I saw many examples of elements of what she refers to in many classroom observations of pupils. However, the better learning was in classes that enjoyed the fact that their teacher did more of it, for more of the time, over more of the curriculum than did other teachers. However it does take time and Kaufeldt recognises the pressures (e.g targets, funding, performance) that can interfere with good teaching and compete for time.
One aspect that I think she could have used better to reinforce her approach and her analogy with fishing is-that of being very clear about your aim or goal. In fishing, you want to make a catch as well as have a good day. Thus, as she describes, the patient, experienced angler starts by thinking what it will take for the fish to take the bait. This is what I think of, as reverse chaining that should be driving our thinking from the start- what do we want children to take away from the efforts we make as educators.
The book is for teachers and educators in general, wherever in the system they lie. That said, it could be most useful when you are in a `stuck' consultation and need to think about how to free up a particularly unimaginative teacher or encourage creativity in others. So it might be useful to have it available to dip into for a suggestion in a report, a question in a meeting or even to reflect on how you also are `hooking' anyone in a training group you run. In supervision of trainee EPs, certainly for those without a lot of classroom experience, it might also be useful to encourage them to think quite specifically about exactly what, and how, education is to be achieved, for even our more concrete learners.