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One of my pet peeves is when people think that Differentiation Instruction and 21st Century Skills are something new and that now teachers need to do something different.  I think if would ask most teachers if it is important that they meet the needs of their students or that their students can communicate, think critically, and be creative, I would think most teachers would say YES no matter if they taught 25 years ago or are teaching today. Therefore I claim that D.I. and 21st Century skills are just good teaching and learning practices. This will be the topic of my presentation at the upcoming Martin Institute Conference in June.

Last weekend I read this article by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks “The Necessity of Asking Questions”



In this Article Rabbi Sacks point out the importance of asking questions. He states that in the middle of the climax of the story of the Jews leaving Egypt the  Bible tells us the twice that our children will ask us questions

    “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the     Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” (Ex. 12: 26-27)
In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Ex. 13: 14)”


Rabbi Sacks maintains that is more than just asking questions but that Teachers and Parents need to encourage their children and students to ask questions. He shares the following story:


“Isadore Rabi, winner of a Nobel Prize in physics, was once asked why he became a scientist. He replied, “My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, ‘What did you learn today?’ But my mother used to ask: ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That made the difference. Asking good questions made me a scientist.”


He  goes on to say “Encourage your children to ask, question, probe, investigate, analyze, explore….The one essential, though, is to know and to teach this to our children, that not every question has an answer we can immediately understand.”


I don’t know about you but to me it would seem to me that the  Bible itself is teaching us the importance  of asking questions which by the way today would be described as a 21st Century Skill.


Therefore lets not get caught up with names or titles but rather  just focus on helping our children and students learn so that they reach their potential and be productive and successful in the world in which we live in

My Thoughts



  1. Grant Lichtman said:


    Re-freshing comments! In the mid-1980’s a couple of us suggested that we should be putting into curriculum some very overt skills like questioning, and the Dean of a rather prestigious Ed School told us that students could not understand something so abstract! It took me a long time to get beyond that but am teaching and writing about this sort of thing now. I am not a promoter but you might find my book The Falconer of interest. I never thought of any of these skills as 21C skills; I always just thought of them as good education!

    I am giving an NAIS panel talk with Jamie Baker next month; assume you are linked in with her if you are going to speak at the Martin Institute.

    February 6, 2012
  2. Grant,
    Thank you for your comment. . Couldn’t agree with you more ” it is just good education”.

    Yes i know Jamie and she is a very good resource. Good luck with your panel discussion.


    February 7, 2012

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