The Academy:  rationale and theory


How do you shape an axe handle?
Without an axe it can't be done.
How do you take a wife?
Without a go-between you can't get one.
Shape a handle, shape a handle
the pattern is not far off.

- Shi Jing





Focus:  the teacher

Heart:  communication

Measure:  cooperative competence

Purpose:  enlarging the future



Cooperative competence is the measure of education

With the teacher and students forming a collaborative learning team, everyone is gaining skills and concepts not part of a graded curriculum.  Students are learning how to learn by cooperating with others.  Their learning can be measured by the achievement of the group of which they are a functioning part.

In any learning task, there is a time when a student has no conception of the task, a time when with the help of a more competent person he or she can complete the task, and a time when he or she can perform the task independently.  Learning takes place during the second stage, termed by psychologists the 'Zone of Proximal Development'.  Before this, the student cannot even pretend to perform the task.  When the student can complete the task, no learning is taking place.  Therefore, it is in the middle zone that instruction should concentrate.

Educational psychologists can tell more about a child's mental development by seeing what he or she can do with a little coaching than byy seeing what the child can do without help.  Cooperation is not only the best means of teaching and learning, it is the best way to evaluate what a student is learning.

Cooperative competence gives each child a feeling of achievement.  This feeling comes not only from being able to do something but in being able to help someone else to do it.  Thus it is important for each student to work with others more competent as well as those less competent.  It is easiest to accomplish this with groups made up of students of different ages.

In working toward cooperative competence, the teacher need not teach each student individually.  As long as one student learns the lesson, it can be taught to everyone through chain or peer teaching.  The teacher can then work independently with other students who are ready to move on.

If the team is learning meaningful things, they will want to pass on their knowledge to others in the community.  Their success in doing this serves as a measure not only of their collective competence but also of their communication skills.  In interacting with members of the community they will uncover new problems to investigate.

Cooperative competence thus prepares students to take on useful roles in the community and in the wider society.  As adults they will be able to use their skills in cooperation and communication to solve real problems.


the academy

the curriculum


life of the land

comparative culture studies

responsive communication