Episode 1:Talking asset inclusive pedagogy with David Rose

In this conversation, Dr. David Rose talks with me about his own learning experiences and the adults that made a difference in his world. We talk about how these experiences led to him developing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as framework for inclusive education and his hopes for UDL as it evolves to meet the needs of today’s diverse learners and educators. 

Resources from this episode

UDL Guidelines.

Book. Universal Design for Learning: Theory and Practice.

Paper. Cracks in the Foundation

Webinars information on Cracks in the Foundation.

Transcript of this episode


UDL, teachers, learners, expert, students, guidelines, educators, teaching, talk, bias, learning.


Margaret Flood, David Rose

Margaret Flood  00:03

Welcome to talking about all things inclusion, a podcast where I get to meet and learn from people in the field of inclusion in its broadest sense that inspire me. I hope they’ll inspire you to. Today I’m talking with Dr. David Rose. In 1984, David co founded caste, and not a not for profit Research and Development Organisation whose mission is to improve education for all learners through innovative use of modern multimedia technology and contemporary research in the cognitive neurosciences. That work has grown into a field or evolving mindset, if you like, that we now know as universal design for learning, where David has flipped the thinking from aability and disability, to variability, and more recently equity. David, I’ve been cautioning you to Irish friends and colleagues for years now. So it was a real honour when I finally got to meet you in Boston. The hour we spent chatting was so engaging. You could have talked to me for the hour, and I would have loved hearing you. But you didn’t your actions modelled UDL, and we co constructed a dialogue where everyone was engaging, sharing and questioning and learning. It was amazing. And that’s why I’m so delighted to have you on the podcast today to speak with you more about your wealth of experience with UDL, and where you envisage UDL going in the future. pause So David, can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself, your background, and what it was that inspired you to explore UDL as a framework for inclusion?

David Rose  01:43

Sure, it’s great to be talking to you again, and I’ve had a couple of visits to Ireland that were among our favourites, I hope I get to do it again, we just love being there. Long visits, they were really nice. So I thought I’d like to start with something that I didn’t talk about for many decades. But in looking back as an old person, I realise how pivotal it was to me. And it goes way back to 1963. I had was in my senior year in high school. And I was growing up in a very small farming town in rural Maine. And very few kids went to college. And in fact, my sister was only the second person to go out of state to college in the history of the school. So I had kind of poor preparation would be fair to say, for going on to college. But I had a wonderful school principal, and he was incredibly encouraging and helpful and so on. And ultimately I  got into Harvard College to just, you know, it was kind of like a diversity at MIT, you know, someone, you know, College Board scores were lousy, all sorts of things were lousy. But someone decided, you know, to take a chance, like, here’s a kid that has some things going for him, went to a poor school, and let’s give him a shot or something. I don’t know, of course, I wasn’t there. But anyway, I arrived at Harvard College and was immediately in over my head. And to make a long story short, I like in freshman English, my first five papers were returned with no grade on them. The teacher said these are not up to Harvard standards.

David Rose  03:53

And he didn’t bother. He just said, you know, start over. And then I got my first our exam, sort of the midterm I took and I got a straight F, which at Harvard College is actually very hard to get they have kind of a gentleman see agreement and getting an F is really kind of unusual. So I hadn’t passed a single thing by midway through my freshman year. And I realised that I was not cut out for this. And so I decided to go and talk to my advisor and tell him that I’d like to stay till Thanksgiving and then just stay home because I didn’t want to have the embarrassment of packing up you know, during the term and all of that but just kind of go home and just not come back and sorry, mate, so I went to see him. But by chance, my advisor was the dean of Harvard College. His name is John Monroe. And when I came in his office, I was expecting a two minute visit. And he immediately greeted me with a Hi, David, how are you? You know, I’ve never been to Turner, Maine. Can you tell me a little bit about it? And, you know, and he said, and I’ve looked at, you know, your history there, and we’re bound by just set, you know, obviously reviewed who I was, which I was impressed that the dean of the whole college would take any time to know what this kid was about. And then he said, so why are you here? And I explained that I hadn’t passed a single thing. And that I, I just didn’t belong. Here’s what I said. And I’m choking up now because I can never not tell this story without it. And he said, Sorry, so I said, I just don’t belong here. And I’m going to stay home at Thanksgiving. And he said, David, I’m the Dean of Harvard College. I am the chair of the admissions committee. If anyone knows who belongs at Harvard, it’s me. And I’m telling you, you belong here. And his doing that, more than anything else changed my life that just say, you belong here. And then he said, so what did you get the F in. And so he picks up the phone, he calls the professor. And he says, he actually asked the professor who’s the graduate assistant who did the grading, so we got him on the phone, and he said, Hi, Bill, I’m sorry, we’ve never met this is Dean Monroe calling. And I’m sure the little assistant professor note, the graduate student was thinking, Oh, my God, why am I getting called by the dean? And he said, I have one of your students here, David Rose. And he got an F on your exam. And I just want to say, he’s important to me, it’s important to me that he does well here, are we on the same page. And you can just imagine what this graduate student was thinking that, you know, my father must have given a building to the university or something. And so sure enough, had an appointment the next day, we go over how to all sorts of things. And it wasn’t that he met with me every day. He didn’t do anything like that. But he gave me a sense that there was someone who believed I belonged and was going to do what was necessary. And he did.

David Rose  07:44

So anyway, things worked out. As some of you know, I ended up teaching at Harvard for 3540 years. But that was the moment when someone said, you belong. That changed, changed my life. And I always regret that I didn’t keep in close contact with him to show what an educators like. I think it’s worth saying that he left Harvard College in two years after that, and he went down south and became the head of the writing programme at an all black college where people were even worse off than I was, and everybody thought was a gesture. And then you do that for a couple years, and then come back and be the president of Harvard. But he never came back. He stayed, and he worked in black poor colleges for the rest of his career. And that, to me, was a symbol of what a real educator is like, he wanted a hard place. And I think what I realised only looking back at it, that I was a trial run, I was a guy that he was interested in someone who didn’t have the privileges and assets that was expected, and that Harvard’s job was to work to make me belong rather than that I had to, you know, fight my way in. And then he realised that even I had much more privileges than the people he wanted to work with. And I think just a remarkable, remarkable man. And I’ll finish this a long story. But when he died, the New York Times had a full page obituary about him. And at that point, he was still teaching in a small unaccredited black college in the south, and a full page editorial or obituary in the New York Times because someone on the New York Times probably the editor knew who he was, and knew this is a great man, and it was just a fabulous editorial. So in looking back at it, I just realised how privileged I was to have this man be the educator and chief for me it was just fabulous. Alright, so that’s a more than anything, what got me on a path, and it’s, thank you for giving me the opportunity to just Tell that story. So after that I did, in fact decide to teach after college and went through training in being a regular classroom, high school English teacher, and ended up teaching in Boston Public Schools. And there I ran into real outright ghastly racism, and had to endure that for my students. And after a meeting where the head of my department said that he wanted to improve the school, and what he wanted to do was figure out how we could have fewer jungle bunnies literally said that in a meeting, and I’m just like, I can’t believe this. So that’s when I decided I needed to get more power. So I applied to graduate school that night to just say, I, my main goal to go to graduate school wasn’t to be come anything, I didn’t know what I would become. But I wanted to come back and fire that guy. That was my only incentive to go to graduate school, I thought if I get a doctorate, I’m going to come back as the principal and want to fire him. And that motivated me for the whole first year was that feeling. So anyway, but I got distracted by all kinds of things in graduate school because they were neat. And they never did go back and fire him. And I went through a series of teaching placements, because I found it a little bit too. Too distancing to just take courses. And, but what I did was I began with high school, as it said, and I worked my way down, and I realised what I was trying to do is find the place at which there was the most leverage. Where could I make a difference as a teacher, because by the time the kids got to high school, they were already typecast into, you know, failures and successes and all sorts of things. And had all had been labelled in various ways. And I wanted to get to where do I go? So I went all the way down to teaching preschool.

David Rose  12:27

And already in preschool, you could tell that some kids were incredibly more advantaged than others. And that’s when I got into the brain science stuff I wanted to know. So is this coming from the brain, you know, is what’s so I ended up going all the way through up to advanced neuroanatomy at Harvard Medical School, to really understand how the brain works, and how does it get to be so different? That we can tell it in infancy, we can tell it so it and that was a sort of other than John Monroe that was the other big thing was to go sort of all the way down the track to the basic neuroscience to understand individual differences in education. And then I became a someone who did neuropsychological testing, which is, you know, finding out well, what is it about these kids brains, that means they’re not doing well in school. And from out of that, I ended up heading a neuro psych clinic, where we evaluated kids kids came to us from their parents or their school, because they were doing poorly in school. And our job was to identify them, give them a name. This is a dyslexic kid, this is an ADHD kid. And so people paid a couple $1,000 for us to do these very extensive evaluations and give them a label. And after about three years of that a group of us in the clinic were disenchanted, frustrated maybe about what our jobs were, and that we merely labelling kids when I would go ahead, everybody go out to the schools to find out how, what happens when we send evaluations? And the answer was not much. They do get a label and sometimes they got extra services. But their trajectories didn’t change. Sometimes they got worse because they got that label. And so at that time, computers were coming into our lives. Some of you that are would find it hard to imagine that there was ever such a thing. But anyway, none of us had computers and then some of us had a few Apple two week computers. And just so you know how long ago this was the apple two computers that we started with had 32k of total memory that’s all they had 32k the computer not the disk just like computer So we started playing with them more than anything else and having our students stay with us after a Val’s so good see what’s it like to use this instrument. And um, and then we started running afternoon programmes and summers and things like that to really work with kids who are on many different spectra that we had evaluated, to find out, do these new things have value for them. And out of that came, the realisation that these were very potentially powerful tools for a lot of the kids we were seeing. And we decided to form a special part of the hospital at the hospital at the time. It was a clinic that you came, and now we would call it assistive technology that we would work with the kids and look to see what could we give them? What could we have the schools give them that would allow them to use powerful computers to do better in school. But again, when we go to the schools, as a good friend at the time, who was in the clinic said, you know, what, David, all we’re doing is creating better access to boredom, you know, that we’re disenchanted with what was happening with these more powerful computers in the kids hands was still doing a lot of dumb things. And that turned us toward what ultimately came Universal Design for Learning, which is figuring out how do we use the computers to make schools better, rather than make kids better? That transition was very big for us.

David Rose  16:50

The, because it connotes what would happen, that we used to think of the kids as being disabled, and we were trying to fix them. And by going to the schools a lot and being there and working with the teachers and stuff about how to use these computers for their work. It really changed. And we saw the schools as disabled, they didn’t have good things that they were using books or you know, 500 year old technologies, and they’re good for some kids and terrible for others and all of that. But that change in mindset to viewing the schools having real disabilities, that our kids that they were not good at teaching. And they weren’t great at teaching anybody that changed us as an organisation. And those of you that had your own, not for profit, so just want to say that we had a rough period where no one referred people anymore, because we were they wanted to find out what was wrong with the kid. And we would say, here’s what’s wrong with the school. And schools became like less likely to refer to us for a while. And then it started to grow as a movement, and schools began to see that it actually was better if they made better schools and diagnose kids less. And then that became a movement here in the US. And you know, it’s very common most people know about UDL in the US now, although not everybody practices at all, but it really grew out of, you know, a single clinic, where we looked closely at what was happening and tried out things until we had some success, but So UDL grew out of real people who came from a disability background, but who looked at schools closely enough, we were all educators that we wanted to make schools better, and we wanted to make them better for everybody. You know, the kids with disabilities were just the symptoms, there were plenty of problems for everybody. Anyway, so that’s how I got to UDL.

Margaret Flood  19:02

Yeah. That is fantastic. And what drew me to UDL myself as a teacher was that focus on schools and systems rather than something being wrong with the child’s. And that’s what that’s what drew me into UDL, and that concept of access being more than just putting something in front of them and I love that you actually talked about better access to boredom. Because just giving a tool doesn’t mean it will actually work. But listening to your story and the heartwarming story of your your first year at Harvard. I know you say UDS started in that clinic, but the seeds were really sown by that Dean, weren’t they like he ‘cos he he started from what I hear. He started that journey on presuming calm He didn’t just look at that test paper with the F. He got to know you. And he saw potential passed a letter on a page. Did you? Did you see that in your journey? Or was that a later reflection

David Rose  20:16

Only later. You know, I obviously was emotional just for me to tell it again. Now, it is incredibly emotional just to think about it. But at that time was part of, you know, an evolution. I mean, I was still scared to be at Harvard for the next three years, too. But, uh, yeah, his view was really a view that I came to adopt. And that he saw his job as making Harvard work for me that they, he was an educator, not just a dean, that he knew. Harvard shouldn’t be famous, just because it has famous output should be famous, because it knows how to teach and knows how to bring people from where they are to where they want to be. And he had that so deep in his bones that he, I realised, to go deeper into that story, I realised because of his leaving Harvard to find a harder place. That actually, when I looked up more about him, it turns out that he was responsible for the what’s the word I want to use, the expanding of the pool of students to which Harvard accepted that it was his initiative more than anybody else’s in Harvard’s history to say, we can take poor kids, we can take black kids, we can take, you know, kids that have had trauma. This is what we should be doing. It isn’t to sort of take rich kids who’ve had everything already. And he, I realise, met with the admissions committee of which he was had. And he said, probably, I’m making this up. But I think what’s happened was he said, Look, I want to accept students like that, when except students we think are promising that haven’t had all the breaks so far. And that may be not perfect in some various ways that we think of, but that’s what we need to take here. And if we’re worried about it, getting emotional again, I’m sure he said, I will take them, I will take them as advisees. You know, he didn’t like say, you guys figure out how to make it work. He said, I will do it. And that I’m sure he said, Give me David Rose, give me Billy. And there was another guy that I knew very well for inner city was the same kid. And he was his advisor to and I’m sure, he probably had 10 advisees. And I’m sure they were all the kids that Harvard thought they’re in trouble. And Dean said, I will take care of them. And that’s where it was just fabulous. He said, We got a we got a strong organisation here. We need to get better. And we’re going to do it. So and then he moved on. It was amazing. But he was a real UDL person, he just said, there’s just too many resources here. We should be able to educate anybody.

Margaret Flood  23:14

Yeah. And it’s it’s really as UDL is putting the learner front and centre, and everything else revolving around that. And I know in your your UDL Theory and Practice book, you, you talk about that multi directionality of everything that goes so not only did that Dean look past the F on your paper, but he also looked past the standard outcomes that Harvard’s produced ie famous people, high grades, high university rankings, and he wants to produce real human people who are going to go out and do something in the worlds. And like, that’s the same in our schools, we want to our outcomes to be happy, engaged people, young people who believe in themselves because they had that one person who believed in them. And it’s our responsibility to reduce those barriers. And to me, that’s what UDL helps us to do. And I know you talked about your your neuroscience pathway. And I don’t have a scientific molecule in my brain. And what I love about UDL is even because you’re reducing barriers to accessing UDL, because you move away from the scientific language, and you actually talk about it again in human centred language in the terms that we understand the whys on the whats and the emotion that goes with the cognitive development as well. And I’m just.  How did you make that transition from that very scientific place? To this more human centred and I suppose teacher friendly approach to to UDL inclusion and equity in general.

David Rose  25:03

But I think it’s again, the same thing that we were working with teachers, even though we were started as a clinic. We were mostly educators. And we wanted to establish relationships with teachers, that that at first made sense of the reports we would write. And when we realised that they weren’t doing that much good. We, you know, we met with teachers, and to figure out what is it that we can do? That would be a help instead of just another pain in the neck to get this report. So I think that’s the heart of good teaching is to really listen to the student, you know, and the Monroe was doing that with me, you know, what? He wanted to meet me and figure out and then start from there. And I think UDL was blessed by being in close contact with schools all the way along. And all of the people had been educators, I don’t think anybody in the beginning group hadn’t been a teacher already. So we know what it’s like to be in the classroom with great diversity of students. That’s probably not a great answer to your question. But

Margaret Flood  26:29

Yeah. Oh, yeah. No, go ahead.

David Rose  26:34

Say one more thing that I also as neuroscientists, and educators, that, you know, would I think, if you think of Vygotsky, in the zone of proximal development, that if you intend to teach and change people’s behaviour, you have to start where they are, you know, it’s just the only way you’re really going to do it. And I think that helped us to realise we need to start where teachers are now. And we can’t talk in language that they don’t understand. And and we need to be in close conversation as as you do with a kid. I mean, that’s, that was the nice thing. Again, Monroe, he sat down with me and talked about, the first thing he talked about was Turner main. You know, he didn’t come in and talk about Harvard College. He said, Tell me about Turner main.

Margaret Flood  27:23

Yeah. And, again, goes back to again, I’m really thinking about UDL. As you’re talking, it goes back to that engagement. And it’s going back to how you can draw your students in and how you can remove some of those fear barriers, and make them feel comfortable and welcomed in the room. And, David, you if my history of the UDL design is correct, you actually started with just the three principles that were associated with those three neuroscience networks of the brain. Am I correct that that was that was the very beginning. And then you develop your guidelines from that? Yeah.

David Rose  28:09

When, I mean, again, I had many privileges. So I’m literally an advanced neuroanatomy at Harvard Medical School, and doing human brain dissections. And the professor was fabulous. And he said, Look, everywhere you look, there’s really three parts to the brain, they do these three things. And here’s how they are, you know, one’s always in the back ones always in the front ones always in the middle. And it just duck, you know, as a simple way to look at the nervous system. And so when we move to how, what are the things we need to be able to say to people, it came naturally to say there, the brain everywhere you look, it does three things, that around which everything else is built, and let’s start there. And so we did and then and actually had that last for a long time. And then we built guidelines, mostly out of the research literature. So if what you want to do is make sure everybody can understand this information, then we we, I think in the original, doing the guidelines, we had 1000 references to the literature that said, here’s what you do. If a student’s blind, here’s what you do, if a student is dyslexic, here’s what you do and so on. We reviewed most of the literature at the time, and that gave us what do we say in the guidelines? So the framework came from the neuroscience and what do you do came from educational science.

Margaret Flood  29:53

Okay, and just kind of marrying the two of them together

David Rose  29:58

and in the role Technology was just because it technologists gave you leverage to try more things, you know, as I don’t know if you know, but I’m just a kind of tech phobe, myself, I’m not a, my wife is our tech expert in our house even. So it’s not that people at Casper techies. But we did see that this is a new tool. And it like anything else that comes into a culture, it can change the culture. And so We seized on it, as this gave more life and opportunity to a bunch of our kids. But it also gave teachers something around which they would have more powerful tools and could change to less boredom, as you know, too. And I’m sure the same has happened in Ireland. But the there’s more interest in UDL right now. It went through a kind of a bump over the last two years, because it COVID Because teachers got used to having technology be more important in how they did their teaching. And so has jumped sort of off the charts, the teachers now go, oh, you know what, this is good. I could do this. And now they want more sophistication in how to do it, you know, to diversify. But now, we’re not no longer pushing uphill, saying that there are tools here you could use, which was the beginning. It’s more like everybody’s done this. Everybody’s had zoom, which you think, you know, remember, none of us knew what zoom was at the beginning. And just that over, opens up, and teachers became what should I say teachers had the groundwork in which to build now a more diversified curriculum, that would work?

Margaret Flood  31:51

Absolutely. And I don’t know. And I’m presuming this was international as well. But there was also then the issue around technology being a barrier. So for those disadvantaged schools, where they didn’t have technology, and I did have people asking, How can I use UDL without technology, which was a really good conversation to have? Because we need to realise that you don’t have to have one to use the other. Have you experienced that as well?

David Rose  32:24

Yeah, we get always asked that. While it was the lever that allowed us to get UDL, it’s like anything else. Carpenters often do the smartest things they do without any tools, you know, and that a lot of the best teachers we know of that call themselves UDL teachers. My people use technology very little. But they don’t stand in its way that they don’t have a problem if a kid with dyslexia does all of his homework on the computer, or takes his tests on the computer, because gives them an equitable access to what’s going on. But doesn’t mean that they necessarily change their way of teaching in any substantial way. And as I said, we’ve seen some of the best examples of UDL don’t have any technology involved.

Margaret Flood  33:16

Absolutely. And if it’s me, there’ll be no technology, because it will always break up the day. But what I loved about technology was in terms of inviting students in, my students used to love when I got it wrong, and they could teach me something. So there is that flip side of it as well.


Yeah, see, that’s a big thing. The change where teachers feel they’ve got to be the experts and everything is just a potential barrier. And that the better thing? Just thinking demon roll. Yeah, the first thing he has is tell me about Turner mean, you’re the expert on something, I want to hear it. And the best thing we can do with kids, too, is say, what are you an expert at already? And make sure that we amplify that rather than what we tend to get caught up in is feeling like we have to be the experts. And yeah, you love it. When you see a teacher goes, you know, I don’t know how to do this, Billy. But maybe you can teach me and

Margaret Flood  34:26

just the relationship happens and the engagement it brings into your other subject areas, especially if they see the teacher is willing to show how they’re struggling and make those mistakes in front. You know, because things happen it’s life, but you’re also role modelling that resilience and that opportunity to show students how to ask for help, which you have in the UDL guidelines is where you have that self regulation and you have not only asking teacher for help But like asking your peers for help, like it’s all built into the guidelines.

David Rose  35:06

Yeah, you know, you’re bringing up something that I hadn’t thought of. But we talk about what’s the goal ultimate goal of a UDL, curriculum. And we say as much as anything, becoming an expert learners are good ones, rather than a particular set of skills or strategies, that what you want to graduate are expert learners, because the world is going to change again, the technologies we’re using, now we’re going to be old hat, and something’s new going to be there. And everybody’s going to have to learn how to do their jobs and new ways and all of that. So we really want expert learners. And the best way to get that is to do what you said, which is a teacher that shows herself learning. You know, if all the kids do is see an output, that the teacher is the expert on everything, then they don’t actually see the modelling of how you become an expert. And so I love it. When you see a teacher say, now I’m really stuck here. Now, when I get stuck, I do I try a couple of things. And that’s so having a teacher, a great teacher I saw kind of brought her hobby into the school to show her kids, you know that even in something she was pretty good at that she would keep coming up on things that she had to learn. And here’s how she would learn. And I think that the more we think of ourselves as by producing expert learners, we need to model expert learning, not not the outcome, we need to model a process of expert learning. And the more of that the better. In fact, one of the crossovers to issues of you know, racial bias and gender bias and stuff here in the US. That I’ve been thinking about a lot is how capitalising on the idea of expert learners, as one of the key things about learning to be anti racist, for example, and that is, an expert learner knows that they’re likely to have old biases and old bad ideas baked into their systems. And so they do things like experiments, where they actually try it out to see if they’re right. And real expert learners, like scientists have control groups and all these things because they know that they have biases. And if they’re going to be an expert learner, they’re gonna have to do some things that are intentional and strategic, and really smart to overcome their own biases. So I like the idea of wedding, anti bias work, anti racist work, intergender, baba, baba, all of that into the overall curriculum. And this is what people who are expert learners do. They realise that they have these older, stupid things that they learned a long time ago, that they have to overcome. And an expert learner, that’s what they do. It’s not that it’s easy for them. It’s that they’ve learned how to do it. And teacher, as you pointed out, a teacher needs to model that. Here’s what I do. Here’s how. Here’s how I learn things. That’s what kids need to see.

Margaret Flood  38:38

Yeah. And I think that is that is where you are going with your next iteration of the UDL guidelines. So I know they started from a special education perspective, but you’ve always been very vocal. Anytime I’ve heard you speak about this not being for one group of students about this being for every learner in your classroom, which is where the variability comes into us. And now you’re talking an awful lot. I heard your talk not last summer, the summer before where you talked about having a bias to pee. And I actually pause that was so such an amazing way of explaining those unacknowledged or unrecognised biases that we sometimes have. And the work that’s going in to developing the guidelines to make some of these things more explicit to educators, as they are working to create these expert learners in in a new social worlds and being able to acknowledge and say I have x, y and Z bias. This is what I do about it.

David Rose  39:43

Yeah. Yeah, I’ve gone even further than then I would say they’re, you know, parts of my brain are definitely biassed racist gender, just all of those things. But they’re the stupid parts. They’re the old parts. The new parts are very powerful. Very learnable and we have to, but if you don’t learn, the old parts will run it. You know, and sometimes I analogize it to toilet training, you know, it does take some new parts of the brain to say, well, I know it’d be nice to just pee right now, right here at my pants. But I’m actually going to use the front part of my brain to say, now I’m going to wait till an appropriate time, and learning how to use our brains in that way. I mean, toilet training doesn’t take, you know, someone just saying to you, okay, stop peeing in your pants. Take some learning. And anti bias learning is like that. We have to say, You know what, I have to toilet train my mouth a little bit here. And it’ll be expert learning, I have to learn. Here’s the kind of times when I do bias things. And here’s how I can avoid it. So it’s anticipating it rather than sort of waiting to you’re in trouble and doing stupid things by me. I like to say that there’s parts of my brain that remain biassed, if I’m not careful. And don’t think ahead, then those stupid parts of my brain will still do stupid things.

Margaret Flood  41:20

And do you think, David that that acknowledgement and anticipation is what is going to lead the next iteration of the guidelines into that equity space?

David Rose  41:32

Yeah, I think so. I’m working on a paper to kind of just put in that process. I’ve been working on it for a long time. And with people I know, you’re gonna interview, Jenna and Nicole, and they’re terrific. And I’m just adding sort of a neuroscience piece of trying to understand from the neuroscience perspective, what bias is the kind of barriers? For me, it’s a standard UDL problem, that bias creates barriers, just like other things. And if we’re going to tack those barriers, we have to understand bias, we have to understand how to how to deal with it, how to prepare kids for it, how to prepare expert, non bias learners. And I just, you know, in fact, in light of what we were talking about earlier, I have learned more from Jenna and Nicole than they have from me. Because they probably smarter than me, but they’re, they’ve grown up in a different world. And they’re ahead of me. So we have had this wonderful we meet every two weeks have for nine months or so. And it’s a little education seminar, where often I’m throwing out the idea, and then they will say, in a very encouraging way. Okay, well, I see what you’re saying. But here’s what that makes me feel. And one of them is black. One is white, are both women, of course, and had different backgrounds than me. And we’re able to talk to each other. And a lot of that is them, alerting me to biases that I didn’t know, I was expressing. And it’s been amazing process for me, I’ve learned a lot. And in one talk we all gave together. We showed a draft something that I wrote where they had, excuse the expression corrected it, they didn’t correct it. But they said, essentially, this raises problems for me when you say it like this. And so we decided to show people this is what education looks like, you know, because they’re, they’re encouraging, they’re not making me feel stupid. But they are saying, you know, this is a good start. And there’s something here that we need to listen to, but you need to hear what we’re hearing. And this conversation is the place where we can have that happen. And so it feels like a good, good, good, give and take like education should be. They respect where I’ve been, they don’t denigrate me for having, you know, some stupid ideas. But they’re teachers and they feel like they can teach me and sometimes I have things to teach them. It’s been a wonderful educational experience.

Margaret Flood  44:47

Yeah. And if everything is going back to what you said, at the beginning about seeing past the grades, or in this case, the colour or the written piece of work the label the disability, to seeing that potential in not only the person, but actually, as we talk, I believe in the system, like you actually believe in the education system and you you believe in the potential in that, which I hadn’t actually thought of before, because I was always thinking about it in terms of the belief in the in the person in front of you. But actually, you kind of need to have that belief in system change as well don’t you?

David Rose 45:31

You know, it’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that. And I have to say, when I go into schools, I find mostly impressive teachers. I mean, they’re wonderful people they’ve gotten there. You know, there’s, you know, few conquers, like in any field, but they’ve gone there with the right motivation, and they are good at it. And so yeah, you’re right, I believe in it. And I, I don’t like that we separate kids into various kinds of schools, or we have private in public schools. I really am. I know, you use the word public differently. But I like sort of, I would much prefer one school system, we were all in it. And we didn’t have any way to segregate kids by any of the usual terms we do now. But yeah, I guess I really believe in it. And I believe there’s some teachers are like D Monroe are just really astonishingly good teachers. One thing I thought of starting with before, when you asked me was starting with my mother, who was a kindergarten teacher, and she was one of those teachers, that just is remarkable. She expanded a Sunday school class into a 300. Kid, kindergarten, when we lived in Florida, because everybody wanted their kids to go to Mrs. Rose’s kindergarten. And she also was very UDL in that one way, what she did. And I remember it was just visible even to me as a kid, is that she was relentless in trying to figure out what was this kid good at. Whereas a lot of people in our fields seem to think their job is to find out what the kid is bad at and fix it. And my mother had the opposite point of view, which is just, she was relentless. And it’s the right word, in trying to figure out something that Billy was going to be the best dad in the whole class. And she went spend, you know, all year until she identified that. So every kid that came out of her kindergarten, went to first grade, feeling like they were great. There were things they didn’t know how to do. But there were some things that they were, you know, the best at. And that was her gift, I think. And so I think that UDL is like that. Sometimes people think that it’s about disability, or it’s about problems. And I think that that’s a mistake. And we’ve sold it wrong, that in fact, it should have its focus mostly on how do we expand what people are good at. And that certainly, people who are good at things don’t mind working on things their weekend. But if we spend all our time working on things you’re bad at, it’s just not going to work. They hope you talked about engagement a moment ago, engagements just going to go if you go to school all day, and people work on your weaknesses. It’s not gonna work. And my mother was just the opposite boy every day she made sure that kid was working on his strength, not just his weakness, and UDL should make that more explicit. Every day a kid should be doing something they’re really good at getting better at it. Now hate it when you see like kids with autism are more likely to have perfect pitch. No, I talked about that along lots of times, but we’ll make these terrible mistakes like we won’t have them be in chorus because we say you got to be in sort of remedial comprehension or be in socialisation behaviour mod class, when a lot of kids with autism would be the best vocalist in their school. And somebody should be saying, Billy needs to be in chorus and in the span, chorus every day, so everybody can see Billy at his best and Billy can see Billy at his best and he’s going to do better in English, if he’s doing really, really well in chorus. And I think UDL needs to push that more that it should be a asset based methodology. And people I think still think of it as a deficit base that we really helped kids were having troubles and I think we should be more emphatic about that we were an asset, inquisitive pedagogy.

Margaret Flood  50:28

I’m sorry, I’m  scribbling that down as such inquisitive. pedagogy is just that’s going off on on a posted when we’re finished. That’s just the best explanation that I’ve had of UDL because that is inclusion. At its best, is when we are actually inviting students in and we’re we’re building what they’re good at. And when you talked about choir, and that students being taken for social skills, if they’re inquire they’re learning those social skills, you can’t learn them in isolation. So not only do we focus on the weakness, but then we isolate them because of us with the best intentions and the words to like your teach them how to be social, when they actually learn it from their peers. Yeah, inquire, David, this, this is amazing. I could have always listened to you for hours. But I know you are a very busy man. So we are coming to the end of our conversation. So firstly, I just like to ask, are there any resources for further independent learning that you would like to direct us to?

David Rose 51:46

Perhaps so I‘ll think about that and send you a couple to include at the end. I know that the work that you’re going to hear from Jen and Nicole has its own website. And I think you know where that is, but so my own reflections are they’re in a paper called cracks in the foundation. And that goes through a little bit more of my history as a teacher, and reflection. But it’s written with Jenna and Nicole. And it’s part of my education sort of coming to terms with things I do and don’t know. But anyway, that so that’s the paper that’s closest to what we’ve been talking about

Margaret Flood  52:36

 Super, and I always direct people to your UDL Theory and Practice book. So I’m going to just name it here. Again, I think it’s absolutely amazing. And it actually exemplifies UDL in its interactiveness. And its accessibility as well. So anyone listening, it’s free to use on the CAST website. And I put the link into that as well. David, have you any final words, reflections or advice that you would like to share with everyone?

David Rose 53:08

Hmm, well, I think that some people think you do sort of a fixed thing with the right answers. And that’s not a good idea. It’s an evolving idea and set of practices. And I hope that people assume that if they join in this work that we’ll need to hear from them. The revision of the guidelines, for example, has a now a list of, I don’t know, 900 people that we’re trying to try them out and get feedback from. So we have a lot to learn. And this version of the UDL guidelines will not be right yet, either. And I think the intent is for us to demonstrate expert learning that we need to make them better than they are now. And then we’ll get more feedback from you folks, hopefully, a lot of good Irish feedback that says, Okay, well, that’s kind of US centric, and doesn’t really work. Hear what you’re saying, and we don’t like that language, or it doesn’t work in this part of our country, is how they’ll get smarter. I think we intend now to revise them every couple of years with what we learn from the field. So I hope people will participate in that. Say, here’s some ways I can make the UDL guidelines smarter.

Margaret Flood  54:34

Absolutely. And I’ll put a link to that consultation in the transcript that goes with this podcast as well. So David, on that note, I’ll say goodbye to everyone. And thank you so much for joining myself and Dave, for talking about all things inclusion, and I hope that you will all join me again soon. And thank you again, David, for sharing with us. This was just amazing, and I really appreciate you given me the time today to do it

David Rose  55:02

Great to be with you I enjoyed it

Margaret Flood  55:05

Thanks a million

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