Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Differentiation in Kung Fu Panda

At my work, they have been showing Kung Fu Panda repeatidly because it is promotional movie of the month. So I have had the opportunity to watch the movie, A LOT. Constantly watching the movie, it occured to me that we see something in the movie that many special education teachers know a lot about, and many general education teachers do not know enough about: differentiation of instruction.

In the movie, Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffmann) has to train Po the Panda (voiced by Jack Black) how to be the next Dragon Warrior, the one that must protect their village from the wrath of Tai Lung (a white tiger voiced by Ian McShane). The problem is that Shifu does not believe Po is supposed to be the Dragon Warrior because he sees him is big, fat joke, and his selection as the Dragon Warrior was an accident. But as the movie progresses, he begins to realize that, while Po cannot be trained the way other Kung Fu warriors are trained, he can be trained. The way to do that is with food. Po, who wants nothing more in the world than to be a Kung Fu artist, is also an overeater. Shifu sees this, and alters his teaching methods a little to help Po train in the arts of Kung Fu.

As dorky as this sounds, teachers everywhere can learn from Master Shif. Look at a student's strengths, and interests, in order to better teach them content (although food may not be the best way to go about doing this, given the raising numbers in childhood obesity).

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