Cooperative Learning & the Knowledge Café format: student-centred enquiry for adults

Last week saw a select group of educationalists and researchers from disparate backgrounds engaging the burning conundrum of education, community building, religion, identity, attainment and social cohesion in multicultural Britain. (See all related posts).

The workshop enquired into various themes, including:

  • systemic issues and the purpose of ‘modern’ education in secular post-modernity
  • community building boundaries; Birmingham, et al.
  • the new role of religion and Religious Education:  SMSC, PHSE, Citizenship & British values
  • student-centred paradigms; renegotiated power relationships or egotism?
  • social constructivism as a democratic skill set; British values as an example
  • beyond now; P4C, the Trivium and the Islamic connection in English educational history
  • Islam and Muslim alternative education; problem for whom or solution to what?

The Knowledge Café format: student-centred enquiry

In a traditional Knowledge Café, participants break into small groups to discuss one or more central questions, ending with an open class summary.

The aim of fusing this very open format with the tight control of structural Cooperative Learning, Healing Fractures II was to afford a sharper and more focused enquiry, which would integrate personal encounters, practical tasks and subject knowledge with debating, negotiation and collaboration.


M. Vince, RE teacher, discusses the use of Cooperative Learning in
VIDEO: M. Vince, RE teacher, discusses the use of Cooperative Learning in “Healing Fractures II”


Participants working with each other across boundaries of faiths, professions and politics to collaboratively discover possible future roles for education. As to the importance of these issues, a vicious circle –  isolation to secure religious/cultural values versus government demands to conform – is pushing marginalised communities beyond breaking point, feeding extremism at both ends of the spectrum.


“I found the insight of the Muslim headteacher particularly helpful when she said it was essentially about belonging….”

– Garry Swinton, Chaplain of The Grey Coat Hospital and Westminster City School.

In presenting Healing Fractures, we wished to demonstrate that British Muslims educators are willing and able to act as a unique and valuable resource in this debate.

Ensuing posts will provide more videos, reflections and a detailed breakdown of the workshop.

Related posts:

Learning Wisely – Living Virtuously: From the mountain to the valley – High-level cohesion, pulling values from the vacuum, or simply “Why Tertiary should pick up on child-centred learning”.


P4C? No, P4U! – Mr Lawson on enframing.


What comes out of the Birmingham “Trojan Horse”? – Critical thinking to go.
Empowering communities through Student-Centred Learning – The Palestinians seem to get it…


Transcript of “The Student- Centred Classroom & The Self-Centred Student…” – Paper presented at the BRAIS  inaugural conference, Edinburgh University, 11 April 2014.

See all Healing Fractures II related posts.

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