Universal, timeless standards apply in education, apply to all children at all times in all countries. Some people get carried away with the differences in children and therefore fail to identify principles of learning and therefore fail to provide a good education to young minds. Montessori methods, for example, work by following universal, timeless principles. They do not eschew principle and do whatever, as some schools of education, some pedagogies, do — to the detriment and destruction of their students.
This point is made in a scientific and in an analogical way by Daniel Coyle in The Talent Code (quote about 10 minutes into chapter 1 in the audio edition):
All skill acquisitions and therefore all talent hotbeds operate on the same principles of action no matter how different they may appear to us. As Dr. George Bartzokis, a UCLA neurologist and myelin researcher, put it, all skills, all language, all music, all movements are made of living circuits, and all circuits grow according to certain rules.
The idea that all skills grow by the same cellular mechanism seems strange and surprising because the skills are so dazzlingly varied. But then again, all of this planet’s variety is built from shared, adapted mechanisms. Evolution could have it no other way. Redwoods differ from roses, but both grow through photosynthesis. Elephants differ from amoebas, but both use the same cellular mechanism to convert food into energy. Tennis players, singers, and painters don’t seem to have much in common, but they all get better by gradually improving timing and speed and accuracy, by honing neural circuitry, by obeying the rules of the talent code, in short, by growing more myelin.
The “Redwoods differ from roses, but both grow through photosynthesis” line is eloquent. I love it. Yes, just as they all function via photosynthesis, all humans function through reason.
We have individual variation, yes, and it must be recognized, and we must take it into account in education — in all human interaction — but we are also all the same.