Book Review

Differentiation and the Brain

How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom

by David A. Sousa and Carol Ann Tomlinson, Solution Tree Press, Bloomington, Ind., 2011, 202 pp., $64.95 hardcover, $29.95 softcover


The one consistency among all of our students is that they are all different. While schools have addressed these differences in many ways, differentiation in curriculum, instruction and assessment is not a new concept.



In Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom, David Sousa and Carol Ann Tomlinson have given us a significant resource for supporting differentiation in all classrooms and understanding its impact on learning with a different view — one based on understandable and focused support from the field of neuroscience.

Fortunately, a love of neuroanatomy is not required to understand and apply this knowledge. The concepts are focused and easily explained with appropriate graphics.

Sousa and Tomlinson present the concepts of differentiation and the brain through eight global chapters that address the non-negotiables of effective differentiation, differentiating in response to student readiness and managing a differentiated classroom. Each section provides practical exercises, questions and activities that can be reproduced and incorporated into professional development offerings.

What distinguishes this book from others on the topic is the explanation of how and why differentiation works in the brains of our learners.

Reviewed by Lane B. Mills, associate professor of educational leadership, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.