Yet declaring the superiority of explicit instruction is considered quite controversial in many colleges of education. For at least the past 30 years, teachers have been trained in a progressive education ideology pushing vague notions of pedagogical constructivism. Gradually, the idealized teacher became one that talks less, directly teaches less, and facilitates more “21st century skills” like technology-assisted collaboration and discovery.
Most concerning is the denigration of knowledge and memorization in pursuit of elusive “critical thinking skills,” all while research continues to show that a critical part of critical thinking (and reading comprehension) is the background knowledge one has in those domains.
It is a relief then that discussion in the U.S. about improving student outcomes is beginning to shift to the implementation of a knowledge-rich curriculum. In the U.S., this has taken the form of the curriculum renaissance – the spread full-service curricular resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards and designed to build deep and robust background knowledge, unlike other curricula which were organized around things like “finding the main idea.”