Look at any major resource sharing website for teachers and you will see a task-based culture. You will see schemes of work that prioritise completing things over the pedagogy of thinking about things.
Students learn by thinking. Thinking is an internal activity. Teachers try to affect that internal activity through manipulating external behaviour: they try to get students to think by giving them tasks.
Not every task involves students thinking. And if they do think, they may not think about the concept itself. The apt example from Dan Willingham (sorry!) is that students baking food to simulate the experience of a slave demographic might spend 5% of the time thinking about the historical experience, and the remaining time thinking about the
My curriculum is academic. It aims to affect students’ thinking, and to get them to become more adept at think of difficult concepts.
To do this requires more than a lecturing style of learning. I sat in an interesting keynote where representative of the Primary, Secondary and HE sectors discussed pedagogy for teaching Shakespeare. Of course, Peter Thomas spoke passionately about interesting and engaging pedagogy. The HE representative spoke in purposefully blunt terms of how the only pedagogy in the He sector is discussion. Peter Thomas somewhat recounted his previous passion.
What is clear, however, is that there are discussion and idea based pedagogies that can be used whose prime purpose is to make the inner life of the student a thinking one. As a negation, is seeks to avoid ideas being distorted just for the desire to attain the interest or compliance or ‘enjoyment’ of students.
There are three main books I recommend:
The Full English.
The EMC All Sorts (interesting, but really requires more guidance than is provided in the book)
The Total Active Participation Book.
Academic Reading Circles Book.
At the heart of what we do is academic analysis. For this to be effective, we need to manipulate the inner-life of the students. This should be done with social experiences. It takes a certain expertise to do so.
I think that students need to come with at least a vague intention to learn, and with an essential level of literacy.