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Academic versus intellectual progress

In my last principalship, I had the opportunity to lead a school with a distinct strategic focus on cooperative learning.


To that effect, we chose to deploy the Kagan Cooperative Learning model in conjunction with Restorative Practices, Co-Teaching and Evidence Based Programming to round out our ‘Big 4’.


It proved to be a powerful and effective strategic combination in terms of both student learning and wellbeing.


I admit to standing on the shoulders of a few academic heroes at the time who had expertise in these and other complementary foci such as effective, efficient differentiation.  One such hero was Professor Lilian Katz whose work in early childhood education is, frankly, genius.


Check out a really important publication by Lilian here.


A line from this work is “Intellectual dispositions may be weakened or even damaged by excessive and premature formal instruction.”


It’s something for all teachers and school leaders to think about as we hurtle toward a future where highly formal, scripted and teacher focused instruction is gaining in popularity.


When wildly clever and passionate people like Katz are concerned that we’re tipping the scales disproportionately toward academic goals for young people and away from intellectual goals … I am too.


Keep fighting that good fight,



PS. If you’re interested in how Restorative Practices can complement existing learning models in your school, my Restoring Classrooms, Strong Classrooms PL workshop is a great way to learn more. Register here.

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