Differentiated Instruction. This innovative approach started circulating in the education community around the 1950’s. In brief, it means meeting students on their terms – teaching to the different needs of each individual in a classroom. Recently this mode of instruction has become the norm. We are seeing less and less of the “one size fits all” lecture format.
And yet, while we can all look at teaching and admire this “individualist” approach and we can recognize the celebration of individualism represented by facebook and the internet, somehow we stop short when it comes to our organizations and staff. Leaders, while doing a pretty good job recognizing at least the need to individualize for their customer base, are not looking sufficiently at the need to support differences in their staff. Why do we still hold so strongly to “policies”? Why do we fear the exception?
Passover celebrates difference within a common cause. Time after time we are reminded that people are unique. We have one goal. To answer – what happened in Egypt? Yet we have four sons asking variations of the question, necessitating four slightly differing answers. We utilize many modalities of instruction at the Seder – intellectual, physical, spiritual, oral, participation, verbal, rhetoric, repetition, commonality, mystery… Our wish is to engage everyone there. Today, we have enlisted the assistance of web technology to educate. Some hold Seders over Skype. Some use YouTube videos – like the new Passover Rhapsody from aish.com. Some have written new editions to ancient texts – such as the new Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander’s New American Haggadah. At my seder we can have as many haggadahs at the table as people, all with slight differences in nuance and thereby connecting with the person who brought it.
It is time. One size does not fit all. And that’s not a danger. It’s an opportunity. Judaism has never allowed one voice to dictate its existence (a human voice that is.) We are held together by common history, common lineage, and common brotherhood. But as we know - two Jews, three opinions. And we have lasted thousands of years. Organizations should be so lucky. Leaders – allow for people to be themselves. Embrace their uniqueness. Lead them toward a common goal.
Have a wonderful Passover.
This blog will return on April 18.