Eureka! Now shut up

11th March 2005 at 00:00
The boffins have been at it again. Not the proper ones who find cures for diseases and designs for better mousetraps, but those who reveal that all buses come at once and there's nothing we can do about it. We knew this, but our knowledge was worthless because we didn't get grants and go to international conferences on omnibus conglomerations in the built environment.

Years back, these boffins turned their attention to children, and after much pencil chewing they announced that young people are not all the same - they're different. Overnight, our cosy belief that children were indistinguishable went out the window, and the dread concept of differentiation blew in on a icy blast before we could close it again.

We can differentiate in various ways, apparently. A scan of the websites tells us that we can vary the product, vary the process, vary the environment and vary the style. (Unfortunately, the unnerving resemblance to the retail trade ends here, so we can't have twice-yearly sales and clear out all the ropey old stock.) This is all very well, but why is it always the teachers who have to adapt? Surely the children could learn valuable lessons by having to respond to the preferred styles of teachers? After all, some teachers work best by fostering a positive learning environment in which intellectual enquiry is stimulated through group interaction and co-operation. Others find an electric prod focuses the mind wonderfully. You know, differentiation can work both ways.

The boffins came up with differentiation after doing brain research. This is something we at St Jude's know a bit about. Indeed, in our constant efforts to stimulate the minds of our charges and help them to absorb knowledge, we became pioneers in the brain research thing. We specialised in hands-on researching, and spent many hours in the basement finding out how to stimulate brains and make them more absorbent. Unfortunately, we were forced to stop when parents started asking where their children had got to. And we ran out of formaldehyde.

We're happy to make our research available to the boffins (but if they want to collect it they'll need a large van, as it runs to several hundred jars). Or, they could do something useful, like shutting up. But they will doubtless beg to differ.

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