February 22, 2024

In this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, educators have to completely leave behind the “one size fits all” philosophy in education. This construct assumes that all learners learn in the same ways but looking at the demands in the 21st century, this approach is no longer appropriate for diverse learners. Traditionally, curriculum, assessment, and instruction are rigid, ensuring consistency in the knowledge and skills that learners develop. However, standardization fails to consider learners’ cognitive abilities, background experiences, learning preferences, and social developments and poses challenges that hinder learners’ creativity, autonomy, innovation, and adaptation.
It requires more effort on the part of the educators to meet learners’ individual needs. It is like shopping for clothes and shoes. In the department store, you would see different sizes of clothes, from extra small to 4X large; similarly, with shoes, you would choose from sizes six to 15.5. Learners differ in shapes and sizes; thus, it would be impossible to design something that would fit all people, or else they would look stifled and slack. With that, content, process, and product must be differentiated. This is a significant attempt, but it entails time, effort, and ingenuity. This is one of the reasons why educators do not entirely practice differentiation. Differentiated instruction is planned and intentional, not spontaneous and selective.
Customized learning is like guiding each student on an individualized journey, deliberately unleashing their potential. Their unique learning needs, strengths, and interests lead to tailored instruction; however, the full deviation is challenging for educators considering the amount of work to be done, the number of students in a classroom, the time allotted in a session, the nature of the subject, and their extent of receptiveness. Hence, educators cannot be fully blamed for not differentiating. Learners still receive common assessments and instruction, disregarding their individualities, resulting in some learners lagging.
Therefore, one size fits all, after all. No matter how hard educators try to differentiate, many factors are thwarting its successful implementation. Educational theories and practices are deemed impractical. The quality of learning is at stake, and the learners are the ones affected based on the quality of graduates produced. Education in the Philippines is in crisis while other countries are significantly progressing. It takes a bold step to make a difference in the education system, and the time is now.