3 Scoop Ice Cream: Academics, Cognitive and Social-Emotional

  • Cognitive
  • Curriculum
  • Social Emotional
Steve Wilkins, Head of School Blog


Gec Washman - Carroll’s mythological guru who personifies the mantra “give each child what she or he most needs” - gets involved in practically every facet of Carroll School life. In this installment of “The Life and Times of Gec Washman,” he impels us to focus on the relationship among academic performance, cognitive development, and social-emotional strength.

Carroll’s Unique Approach to Educating Children with Dyslexia

A few months ago, Gec and I were meandering down a beachside boardwalk when we came across a humble ice cream stand. Gec ordered up a massive three scoop cone: strawberry on top of vanilla on top of chocolate. I ordered a simple cup of black raspberry with sprinkles.

Gec then sat me down on a bench overlooking the Atlantic and utilized his cone as a teaching device. He explained that each of the three scoops represents a core approach to helping Carroll students thrive. The base scoop is Carroll’s commitment to structured remedial education. The middle scoop represents cognitive development, and the top scoop reminds us to constantly focus on the advantages of being a different kind of learner. Gec suggested that I discuss this topic in depth on Parent Visiting Days at Carroll this winter, which I will.

All the time that Gec explained the essence of each scoop, he was slurping the ice cream down to the cone. With all the ice cream now below the level of the rim of the cone, Gec waved the cone at me and inquired, “Do you know what the cone represents?” Being a raving Gec fan, I blurted out what he had taught me: “The cone represents the child… the confident, resourceful, and emotionally resilient Carroll student.”

Over nearly 50 years of educating bright children with language-based learning differences, Carroll has learned that each element of Gec’s ice cream cone is essential.  A quick blast of remedial reading education by itself isn’t enough to meet the standard of giving each child what she or he most needs. We need to address the underlying cognitive causes of the language based problem. In fact, we now understand closer and closer correlations between reading fluency and reaction time, reading comprehension and working memory, and math performance and processing speed. Additionally, we need to provide opportunities for students with extraordinary skills to enhance and develop their creative, engineering, visual-spatial, entrepreneurial, artistic, athletic, and leadership skills.

As Gec finished off his cone, he quipped, “And the amazing reality is that you won’t necessarily see the impact of the ice cream for quite some time. The residual impact of the three scooper may come in the form of academic achievement scores, college admission, career attainment, life happiness, stunning stories of invention.. who knows?” Gec suggested that Carroll had best start collecting as many alumni stories as possible as we head towards our 50th Anniversary in 2017 because, as Gec put it, “the proof is in the ice cream.”

  • Cognitive
  • Curriculum
  • Social Emotional



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