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Intellectual Foundations: The Key Missing Piece in School Restructuring

   We require intellectual eyes to know withal, as bodily eyes for sight. We need both objects and organs intellectual; we cannot gain them without setting about it; we cannot gain them in our sleep, and by haphazard.

— John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1852

Virtually all agree that the teaching and learning of students should enable them to effectively handle not only challenging intellectual content in the classroom but also challenging practical content in everyday life. Virtually all also agree that we need high intellectual standards — with all the components of education aligned to those standards — so that everything adds up in both the minds of the students and those of the teachers. Every dimension of schooling — curriculum, pedagogy, teacher inservice, school leadership, school vision, and long term planning — should work together so that students have the best possible chance of raising themselves to a high level of personal, ethical, and intellectual performance, and so that teachers are keenly aware of how best to foster these high level performances.

The quality of student learning is the key variable. Nothing else matters if quality learning is not taking place. And understanding what this means requires that we re-discover the importance of the “intellectual” dimension of student performance. We must come to recognize once again — as we did long ago in our dim educational past, before psychology became the dominant discipline in the design of instruction — that education requires....

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