Smarten up your teaching with CAFE model

10 October 2021 — Written by Sarala A

Share this article


We are living in the 21st century but following the teaching methods and education system that have far exceeded their expiry date. It is no wonder that academic progression, as measured in schools, tends to create pressure among the students and their parents. This is why the majority of students set their goal to be first in the class. The first position can only be bagged by one while the aspirants are many. This mathematical discrepancy makes the situation all the tougher and leaves every student, other than the topper, in a losing position. Now, add to that the fact that a student can be the class topper, but there are so many in the district. And more so in the whole state and on and on this loop of competition goes. So, can a student ever win? This is the question we ought to ask as parents and facilitators. Besides, is it worth winning this competition in the first place? We’ll explore such nuances in this blog with Sarala A, Process Head @ HLC & Beyond 8.

Time to replace the idea of competition

We tend to assume that winning against an opponent is the hallmark of your success and growth. But it isn’t the case. In a finite game, success is quantitatively defined. However, we never reach a state of constancy in our life and keep on progressing. Plus, a lot of things that give us happiness - relationships, passion, career - are not an end in themselves but an ongoing pursuit that inspires us.

Time to replace the idea of competitionGrowth is an ongoing process that shapes our personality, changes our values and makes us a better person. True learning builds upon how long one can stay in the game despite the unpredictable changes between players and uncertainty in outcomes. Therefore, the ‘win’ in a finite game becomes invaluable in the long term and makes space for a growth mindset as a better alternative.

Kids learn best with a growth mindset

Kids can learn in two ways. Either grow in the environment they’re in or grow as per their needs and wants. Psychologist Carol Dweck describes growth mindset as the belief in oneself that their talents can be developed through strategic hard work, mentorship and feedback.

Having an infinite number of variables in the long game of life, a child has to understand whether to last till the end or burn out by the time school gets over. For the former to happen, the first step is to not compare students with each other. The progress that is determined from the outside, scores and awards, become meaningless unless it inspires the student to strive for their best as they become an adult. On the other hand, a growth mindset encourages students to develop intrinsic motivation, a predictive factor for future success.

The better way is to compare the current score of the student with the historical statistics to understand whether they are learning or not. On the qualitative scale, one could keep note of how various values such as empathy, curiosity, leadership and innovation exist in a child and how they make use of them. Plus, it is also useful to compare the students to where they are now and where they were six months back.

Time to play the long-term infinite game

What is the infinite game? In his book by the same name, Simon Sinek describes it as an interaction between two or more people (or teams, organisations) where the rules are changeable and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game, there is only learning from what happened to strive for better things ahead.

The CAFE (Chunking, Assimilating, and FEed forward) model is a trend analysis of student scores and represents data to predict personalised growth. It is independent of variables such as the method of assessment, the complexity of the topic and the cohort’s performance that tend to vary from time to time. In the course of unpredictable changes, it is important to persevere, rejuvenate and restore the self-worth of the learner before it becomes too late. The goal of a facilitator must be to feedforward while having a strong yet compassionate approach to revive the learners’ inner child. In the long term, it helps the child’s future professional development.

Time to play the long-term infinite game

It is true that students have their choice of subjects in the academic modules. This choice leverages the learning space to represent the “Zone of proximal development”. Thus learners’ engagement is visible and allows them to evaluate their experience with a receptive mind and use the feedforward to produce valid, reliable and actionable results.

In this model, academic growth is measured by comparing students’ current scores with their prior attainment scores. The final representation is the trend of their learning capabilities without comparing them to others. As a result, the upper and lower bound capabilities are shown to quantitatively measure growth. The model reveals whether a student is growing along the lines of their fullest potential or do they need support to accomplish their best. Thereby, the CAFE model representation of a learner’s achievement scores provides the perfect visualisation for learners, and their parents and facilitators, to reflect on their learning journey.

CAFE model for measuring progress

Also, facilitators and parents have to ensure they regularly have constructive and reflective conversations. Research shows that such talks encourage the learner to proceed with a strong and compassionate approach rather than the “definitive” or “demotivating” way to do things. When students get motivated to do better than the standards they set for themselves, that’s when we can say we no longer are asking them to play a finite game. They’ll play the infinite game of life and succeed in the long run.

This model intuitively answers many questions like

  • Whether I am ready to take the standardised exams?
  • With my current state, do I have to seek support or not?
  • Should I continue learning this subject for the next step in my learning journey?
  • What is my grasping capacity and how can I work on utilising its fullest potential?

Overall, with the CAFE model, students’ level of confidence increases when they have clarity on the learning pathways. When the learning trend is kept transparent to all the stakeholders, facilitation from teachers and parents becomes deliberate and focused. While providing the necessary support, they can keep the check on the learner’s inclination towards the subject. This lifts off the pressure to focus on the complexity of a topic and, in turn, evaluate whether students have learned enough to fill in the learning gap or not.

CAFE model - the future of learning

The CAFE model is the future of learning progression. It makes the standard score comparison, peer-level competition and winning in the exam irrelevant, thereby inculcating the sense of playing an “Infinite Game” among students. And, not to mention, preparing them for professional development and pursuing careers of the future with utmost passion and perseverance. The indication of the students’ current state with respect to their learning trend increases their confidence score. As a result, they tend to have more control over their learning through self-reflection and ultimately strive for more meaning and happiness in life. After all, isn’t the pursuit of happiness what we all seek? The CAFE model makes it happen.

Other than the CAFE model, to know more about innovative tools and techniques like Dream Mapping and Heutagogy, do follow us on our Instagram page. Feel free to connect with us at and check out the websites of Headstart School and Beyond 8 to know how we make learning student-centric and prepare them for a 21st-century workplace by building the perfect skillset as per their interests!

Beyond 8

Beyond 8 provides transformative pathways for high school learners to pursue the best collegiate liberal education in India & abroad.

© Copyright 2020 Beyond 8. All rights reserved.