Marie Kondo and UDL – What’s the Connection?

You may well be wondering what Marie Kondo and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) have anything in common! Well, I could make an analogy about tidying up our teaching practice. Or, cleaning out old beliefs about UDL being for ‘Special Education’ only! But the analogy is that UDL and Marie Kondo are both about sparking something within us.

Carefully folded washing placed neatly into drawers.
Sparking joy: Neatly folded clothes in a chest of drawers.

This post explores Guideline 7 in the UDL framework. It relates to engaging learners. Specifically, the guideline is about recruiting the learner’s interest. Just as Marie Kondo implores us to value items that ‘spark joy’, in Guideline 7, the UDL Framework recommends working with students to ‘spark excitement and curiosity for learning’.

But how? Engagement is based around three checkpoints in the UDL Framework.  The first is optimising individual choice and autonomy. This is about empowering learners to take charge of their own learning. Second is optimising relevance, value, and authenticity for learners to connect with learning to experiences that are meaningful. The last checkpoint is to minimise threats and distractions in order for students to feel safe and take risks in their learning.

In her book, Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning, Loui Lord Nelson dedicates a chapter to ‘Engagement.’ She links to the research in addition to providing examples of what the checkpoints look like in practice. To resonate with a range of educators, some examples are given for learning experiences with younger, middle years and then high school students.

There are more practical suggestions on reducing barriers to learning on the CUDA website.


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