He was an advocate of the abolition of corporal punishment and he endeavoured to promote a progressive curriculum in secondary schools. Mackenzie published his opinions in a series of books in which he challenged the dominance of exams and a utilitarian educational ethos.
RF Mackenzie wrote and published three books, often referred to as 'the trilogy', while he was headteacher at Braehead Secondary School, Fife.
A Question of Living, published in 1963
Escape from the Classroom, published in 1965
The Sins of the Children, published in 1967
During the 1970s he was dismissed from his headteacher post in Summerhill Academy in Aberdeen following public criticism of his liberal approach to school discipline.