In preparation for our next assignment, one of my classes welcomed David Rose, founder and CEO of the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) to talk to us about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Of the numerous ideas about UDL Rose shared, two struck me most powerfully:
Disability is in the intersection between the variability of the school and the variability of the students. The smaller the variability you build into the school, the greater disability you’ll have in your students.
“Universal” means everybody. Do not have the notion of the standard child. What really is universal is variability.
While I whole-heartedly agreed with Rose, I couldn’t help being mindful of who was in the room. We were a room full of graduate students. Whatever our variabilities, we’d learned to tuck them away to fit the narrow path that led us to that lecture hall where we could learn to build systems that would ostensibly help more students be like us.
While many of us question the industry standard definition of intelligence, without that definition and its tendency to exclude folks who aren’t us, we wouldn’t have been their to hear Rose, to nod in agreement and dutifully take notes as he shared his learning.
Each of us here has learned to play the game of school superbly. I wonder, then if taking Rose’s words to heart means making it so more people can play the game or changing the game entirely. To my mind, they are two separate things.