Open Teaching

I really like the topic this week about open critical pedagogy. A quick confession: at the beginning of this course, having previewed the blogging opportunities that lie ahead in the course, I had planned to blog on this topic – I should have a lot to write about open pedagogy, I thought to myself ;)…Well, fast forward to this week, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew about open pedagogy. I had thought open pedagogy was all about open educational resources; alas! it was more than that. I have learned from the readings this week that open educational resources (e.g., open access, open science) is just a subset of open education, however, when people think about open education, they think more about open educational resources and less about open pedagogy.

Ironically, I have always appreciated open pedagogy; I just didn’t know what it was called.  I took a course last year and the professor practiced, to some degree, open pedagogy. At the beginning of the course, he asked us to edit the syllabus as we saw fit. Specifically, he asked that we assign grade weights. We worked in groups and we eventually decided on how we wanted our grades weighed and distributed. This was the first time I would be in a class where the professor would invite the students to share some power. I really liked this practice and I decided to adopt it in my future classes. The semester after that, I was the instructor for a recitation class and I tried it out in my class, and the feedback from my students was great – they loved it.

Well, I straight up included it in my teaching philosophy. Here’s an excerpt from my teaching philosophy:

“I believe that instruction should be learner-centered and engaged as much as possible. I consider my role as that of a facilitator rather than a teacher – in fact, I learn from all my students. I endeavor to provide a conducive learning environment that provides psychological safety to students, and such that encourages them to actively participate physically, mentally, and socially in class discussions. One of the ways I do this is to decenter power (as much as possible) and allow my students to regulate some aspects of their learning. For example, I sometimes allow my students to suggest how they want their grades distributed and weighted.”

Although I had made a decision to be open in my pedagogy about a year ago, I just really understood what it means this week. Here’s my definition: Open pedagogy is freedom; it is about inviting students to be free in the classroom. Freedom may take many forms. Examples include:

  • Freedom to ask questions freely
  • Freedom to think critically and innovatively (which may include disagreement with the professor’s perspective)
  • Freedom to co-create their learning experience (e.g., setting learning objectives, participating in grade weighing, etc.).
  • Freedom to self-construct their own knowledge.
  • Related imageImage: © Bronwyn Hegarty, 2015

Well, this power decentralization makes many professors uneasy. Moreover, it takes hard work on the part of the professors. For example, allowing the students to adjust the syllabus to fit their learning needs is extra work for the professor, and it may not be very rewarding after all. In fact, many professors have said that working in a big research university like Virginia Tech does not help with investing effort into teaching, since the tenure process places more emphasis on research than teaching. I think it is high time universities (including research universities) start making teaching a big part of the tenure application packet. This should help the cause of open pedagogy on a larger scale.

As for me, I have made a decision to continue to practice open pedagogy and I will keep learning more ways to be more open with my teaching.



Open Critical Pedagogy: It’s about the students, not you as the instructor.

“And again who are we seeing higher education is reserved for? It’s not about just not systematically alienating a segment of our population. It’s about all benefiting from taking a more inclusive approach. So it’s like at the end of every conference presentation there’s usually the Q and A period and somebody will so I don’t need the mic. But the mic is not for you, it’s for the people in the room who are hard of hearing. And it’s that the thinking that I’d really like to trigger as people think about accessibility.” – Rajiv Jhangiani, Critical Open Pedagogy

Out of this week’s resources, this quote really stood out to me. As instructors, we often rely on our experiences of learning when we develop our teaching methods. How often do we pause and think about the students in the room who come from learning backgrounds that are different from ours?

Rajiv’s podcast episode made me reflect on some important conversations that we have had in our class so far. The episode opened with a conversation about accessibility and the dreaded, expensive textbooks that most professors require their students to purchase. That made me think about the discussions we had in Week 3 – Digital Technology. The small group that I was in talked extensively about the affordability of technology in the classroom. One example that I gave was about when my friends and I shopping for laptops before the beginning of our freshman year. It was almost expected that each student owned a laptop and at the time, I didn’t think that anyone would have a problem with buying a laptop. However, I mentioned this conversation to my friend who went to a smaller university where many of the students were first-generation college students. She had a friend who didn’t have a laptop and never owned one throughout college. He took notes by hand and had to go to the library every night to do his homework. To me, this seemed like a huge accessibility issue since almost every assignment of any class requires a laptop or computer. I’m not sure if that school allowed their students to loan laptops, but I remember when my laptop broke down and I had to loan one from the VT library. The library has a small supply of laptops and some weeks it was difficult for me to borrow one because they were in high demand.

My biggest question right now is how do we get “old school” professors to think in a new mindset where they alter their course to accommodate the needs of marginalized students? One of the professors that I used to TA for often goes to higher education pedagogy workshops and talks on campus. She aspires to learn new techniques to improve her class and make it more inclusive. However, she mentioned that every time she goes to these events, she always sees the same people. How do we include more professors to attend these workshops and improve their classes? In short, there are multiple reasons why they don’t attend, such as time and their focus on research, which takes priority over teaching. Maybe they’re not interested in changing the way they teach because they’ve been teaching like that for decades. However, being exposed to the discussions around open critical pedagogy may allow them to make subtle changes to their classrooms, which could benefit their students.

Open ‘Critical’ Pedagogy


I want to explore the idea of ‘critical’ for this blog post. The example discussed here is to exemplify the importance of critical pedagogy.

Over a period of eight years, I have worked as a grassroots activist with several marginalized populations in India. The rural Indian society encompasses many different communities including marginalized populations like the Dalits (lowest in the rank of Hindu caste stratification) and Adivasi (indigenous groups). Both the Adivasi and Dalits are a part of a socially and economically backward part of Indian society.

During my work and stay in the villages, I often questioned the Dalits, “why don’t they as a whole community does not protest against the caste oppression?” The most common reply was, “we have done bad Karma in our past lives, and we deserve to be treated like this. This is our fate and we will have to live it.” Families belonging to Dalit communities are often treated as outcasts from the larger village. They were considered as untouchable which meant the higher caste families did not want to socially and economically intermingle with them. The harshest part was these communities not allowed to come close to any proximity to higher caste designated areas leading them to be excluded from access to necessities like food, water, schools, shops, etc.

My work with the Adivasi (indigenous groups) was a different experience. The Adivasi communities in India are considered to be Jungli (barbaric and savage). They often look down upon the rest of the communities in the society. These are communities who practice subsistence agriculture, a minimalist life, live in the jungles and have a strong history of resistance against the outsiders who were trying to invade their lands. The exciting part was the sense of pride they have in who they were despite outsiders always saw them poor, uncivilized people.

Paulo Ferrier’s work, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” helped me to understand the difference between the two communities, i.e. the question of why some communities resist and some do not.

The Adivasi groups were proud of who they were and could recognize the social and economic injustice. That led to a strong history of resistance among them against the Hindu Upper elite class in India. This resistance became part of Adivasi history and consciousness. On the contrary, the dalit community was even unable to recognize what’s happening with them is social and economic injustice and is unacceptable. The idea of Hindu Brahaminical philosophy which celebrated the caste system and advocated for practicing untouchability became the part of there consciousness. They accepted their reality and never questioned it.

Paulo Ferrier has aggressively talked about teaching people to understand their realities and question them. He emphasizes understanding teaching as a political tool for self-empowerment that can lead to social change in society. Here it is important to recognize we as teachers/ instructors can help students to create an imagination which doesn’t exist for them. This imagination can be a powerful tool for them to recognize patterns of oppression around them.






Can homework assignments and rubrics be copyrighted?

I fully support open access text books and other open access pedagogy tools.  I appreciate using someone else’s slides or homework assignments and I would like to make mine available for others to use.

Please allow me to use this blog post to investigate a situation I’ve heard about.  Faculty member A took over a class from  faculty member B and still uses some of the original homework assignments.  In addition, over the last year a good number of those assignments have been modified based on comments from  faculty member C who demanded them be reworded to better meet accreditation standards – their department is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Faculty members B & C who either previously or recently contributed to the homework assignments in the class have demanded that the copyright logo be added to both the homework assignments and rubrics as a means to prevent them from being used by others without permission.  Faculty member A complained to the department about the request but was encouraged to be compliant.

  1. Can a teacher just add “Copyright 2018. Smith, Jones & Doe” to a university homework or grading rubric and assume it is protected? (I thought you had to file for a copyright)
  2. What could the potential benefits be of doing so?  Isn’t this in direct conflict with the idea of open access?
  3. Can faculty member A refuse to add the copyright?



Reflection: A Precarious Student Turns Into a Precarious Professor

So, some background on your favorite criminologist*. When I was in college, I was not exactly the ideal student. I displayed excellent writing skills, participated in a lot of different clubs, tackled difficult subjects head on, and continually improved my ability to look critically at a variety of issues, seeing the logic or rationale behind arguments that I might have thought ridiculous at first glance. But I was also constantly late in getting to class, I couldn’t afford much in the way of resources, and needed assignment extensions throughout my last year. If it hadn’t been for a bit of luck and a lot of support from family, friends, and my understanding professors, I may very well have failed out of college. In some of these respects, I still have issues.

In short, I was what Rajiv Jhangiani would call a “precarious student“. I was someone who did not, who COULD not afford to make college coursework a top priority, much less his first. I won’t go into too much detail, suffice it to say I’ve been dealing with elder care giving, institutional screw-ups of the financial persuasion, and/or inconvenient timing with a variety of health issues (not always my own) since I was eleven years old. And as of next semester, I’m also slated to start teaching an undergraduate course.

I am not a tenure-track professor, I am not a paid instructor, I’m not even an adjunct faculty member, I am a doctoral student who will be teaching Peace and Violence. Not the most precarious position, but hardly what I’d call secure. Nevertheless, I carry a moral duty to help students avoid the institutional obstacles which blocked myself and my peers in college.** That starts with my classroom and how we, that is, the students and I, operate it. As part of my efforts to implement a critical pedagogy which I define as “teaching and learning as a shared interaction to challenge the preconceived knowledge and perceptions leading to individual empowerment and social change” as well as an open pedagogy which allows us (again, students and I) to counter structural obstacles, I submit several excerpts from my initial syllabus for my upcoming Peace and Violence class for scrutiny and feedback. These excerpts reflect my current strategies to challenge systemic issues with grading, resource access, and the student-professor power dynamics.

Resource Access


There is no text book for this class. However, as part of this semester’s coursework, I expect you to find and read a book on a relevant topic to this class.  If there is a book you want to read but are having difficulty acquiring, let me know ASAP and I will do what I can. 


Unless otherwise instructed, technology including laptops, tablets, netbooks, and mobile phones are permitted within the classroom. However, phones should be silenced and stored whenever possible unless you can demonstrate that you’re using it to take notes. Refrain from using social media, sending messages, checking the news, reviewing sports standings, or watching videos. If you need to send out a message or make a phone call, be quick and discreet or exit the classroom until you have finished. If you cause a distraction, you will be asked to stop. Twice, and you will be asked to leave.

(Peace and Violence, FALL 2019)


I do not take attendance, however, if you miss a participatory activity in class it will go down as a zero unless you have an excused absence or promptly contacted me regarding missing the class. In either event, I will have you complete a substitute exercise.


I handle grades in this class a little unusually. I don’t use grades as a punishment.

Rather, you will receive feedback on what you’ve done and what you need to work on. As long as you give an honest effort to meet the course requirements, you will not have an issue. I will give updates bi-weekly and will  ensure that you receive some feedback,.

The only grade that will carry formal weight will be the final grade, which will report whether or not you’ve made this effort and should be allowed to proceed onto higher level courses.

In particular, I look for the following:

-Class Discussion or Participation

-Information Retention

-Meaningful Analysis

-Critical Thinking

(Peace and Violence, FALL 2019)


During these weeks, you will pick one of a set of designated readings and you will become an “expert” on  it.  Towards the end of class on Monday, you will spend fifteen minutes with the other “experts”. On Wednesday, you will spend half the class in a group where you will discuss the key themes of your reading and hear others do the same. You will then bring these themes together into a meaningful product to share with the rest of the class. Guidelines and suggestions will be given during each session.


While I expect you to be skeptical of assumptions and to find some of the information here shocking, I do not reward disrespect. Be attentive, be quiet and listen when others are speaking, and do not stigmatize others for their ignorance.

I understand that students sometimes have needs which might clash with the rules. I am open to making reasonable accommodations. I can be reached via e-mail or in person during my office hours. If there’s an emergency, let me know ASAP. If you require accommodations or have concerns about a course requirement(s), please feel free to contact me.


The final two weeks of class will be devoted to students discussing what they have learned from this class, how they want to act on that knowledge, and where we want to go in future courses.

Whether you’re a GEDI participant, a colleague of mine, a prospective student, or someone who happened to stumble on this entry, please feel free to offer your own thoughts, concerns, and questions.

* Your favorite criminologist is still in training at the time of this entry.
** I carry many more moral obligations, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on this one.

GEDI Post 6: Opening Knowledge at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech believes that openness is the future of higher education. Openness ensures greater dissemination, inclusiveness, and integrity for the advancement of knowledge and the education of the next generation. 

On January 2019, Virginia Tech Library launched an awesome booklet  that introduces a few of the many open resources you can find in and through the Library. You can download the booklet in this link 

The first section, “For Scholars,” highlights the wealth of open scholarship in the Library’s collections as well as tools we make available to researchers for writing and publishing open scholarship. The second section, “For Instructors and Students,” focuses on tools and resources specifically aimed at making learning accessible, abundant, and customizable for all. 

These resources, tools, and services, plus a great deal more, can be found on the Library website by visiting and Open@VT, Throughout the booklet tools and resources marked in maroon, orange, and grey indicate the following: 

  • Maroon are resources provided by VT. 
  • Orange are tools supported by VT. 
  • Grey are resources created at VT

I wonder…

In the readings critical, complex and open pedagogical frameworks the classroom or a course were the analytic levels.  As has been mentioned throughout people’s discussions of the semester, that there are some difficulties in applying this to certain courses.  This, for me, has raised an internal question of what if we do this on the major/department level, and create a critical pedagogical arc? 

For faculty, there an be a challenge in operating within a system or structure that doesn’t support or advance these methods.  Some of the push back from the university, department and even students can temper adoption.  For students, I wonder how having the freedom to learn in one course, and then pushed back into the traditional format impacts motivation and drive in the long-term.

I wonder how student learning will be changed, particularly in STEM, if departments adopt an explicit critical pedagogy arc over the course of a program.  While foundational courses adopt critical pedagogical techniques to the degree to which they can, feasibly, sequential, high-level courses integrate techniques to an even greater degree of experiential learning, student-centered learning, collaborative course creation, etc. I wonder what would happen to knowledge if students could annotate readings and documents each semester to be used by those in the coming semester, or for themselves in later courses. 

I wonder what would happen if students and professors created a shared portfolio that traveled from course to course throughout the major/program, sans grades. I wonder if this would allow projects and interest areas to extend beyond one semester or develop in lower-level courses.  This portfolio could be used to guide project selection in future courses, and student skill development started in one course could continue in other courses (this would not include FERPA related information, but a co-created evaluation of the experience and items for other professors to continue). 

I wonder if this would create personalized knowledge/degrees, even within the “traditional” degree structures.  I wonder if this would change the notion of ownership that students have over their education from passively “receiving/getting an education” to something more powerful.  We discuss the freedoms that students take in this context, without fear of failure – I wonder if faculty, with support from the department, chairs and deans, would also take more risks.  I wonder if there would be more collaboration between faculty with regard to structuring syllabus, projects, and knowledge development if classes were seen not as stand alone check boxes or requirements, but one part of an integrated whole development process, centered on the student.

Banking Concept vs Problem-posing

This week I have been assigned to read and prepare to share with the class a portion of Paulo Freire’s seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. See the link below.

Chapter 2 of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire:

First, I would like to provide some background on the author. I did some quick research on Paulo Freire on Wikipedia and learned that this work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, is considered one of the foundational texts of the overall crtitical pedagogy movement. Taking directly from his Wikipedia page “Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has had a large impact in education and pedagogy worldwide, especially as a defining work of critical pedagogy. According to Israeli writer and education reform theorist Sol Stern, it has ‘achieved near-iconic status in America’s teacher-training programs'”. Some additional relevant trivia is that Paulo wrote this text in response to other contemporary works that emphasized the need to formally educate the indigenous populations of his native Brazil which is, needless-to-say, controversial.

In Chapter 2 of the book, two main teaching approaches are outlined and branded by Freire. The first, Freire calls the “banking concept of education“. In this approach “education thus becomes an act of depositing…knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry.”

Although this description is a rather cynical description of formal education, the point is made. Learners are empty vessels to be filled and (should) make no contribution to the process expect by consuming the subject matter. I don’t believe that I have ever been subjected to this extreme level of the banking concept, but I have definitely had samples. If my experience is anything like what Freire is describing, I agree with the author that this method is lousy.

The second approach that Freire introduces is one he calls “problem-posing” education. In a lengthy expert from the text, problem-posing education “breaks with the vertical characteristic of banking education, can fulfill its function of freedom only if it can overcome the above contradiction. Through dialogue, the teacher-of-the students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student with students teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow. In this process, arguments based on “authority” are no longer valid; in order to function authority must be on the side of freedom, not against it. Here, no one teaches another, nor is anyone self-taught. People teach each other, mediated by the world, by the cognizable objects which in banking education are “owned” by the

This approach is one that I am familiar with and am particular to. I especially like the portion of the previous quote that says “arguments based on “authority” are no longer valid.” The authority argument, which is to say, “I have a credential therefore my opinion is right”, has always been a weak and contentious one. It removes the responsibility of the authority figure from justifying a position which is a great disservice to learners. The quality of the thought, not the diploma on the wall, is what should be graded. Beyond that, it is regarded as pretentious and a little lazy.

Let me know your thoughts on the two approaches outlined above.

Hippy Underwear

Just kidding. Hippies don’t wear underwear. But their lawyers do.

The author returning home after three months in rural Texas. Mind the fuzz. It was a celebration. (2007)

Despite the title, the joke, and the image, it needs to be said: The battle of legalization isn’t being won by hippies. It’s being won by lawyers. Now, I am not going to dive into a political debate – that’s not what this is. But, I do want to give some examples of how people are making real changes from within a given system, like challenging the drug laws or raising money for charity. Even a father’s words might be useful for altering the status quo of our education system from within. We need to be critical.

I realize I’m painting with a broad brush, but bear with me. With the exception of medical marijuana in select states, decades of discourse have resulted in bupkis. That is, until Colorado finally called it up for a vote. Yes, the people spoke! but it wasn’t through peaceful protests and smoke-ins and parades. Those things also happened but it wasn’t until the work of lawyers who wrote bills and made cases in courts that legalization became a reality. And they did it with suits and ties on, no less! They made huge changes from within the given system by knowing the rules and playing them so damned well they couldn’t be beaten.

Yes, popular opinion mattered. Yes, action was needed. But the law of the land would not bend until the people of the law stepped up to the bar. Now, those people might have had tie-dye underwear on beneath their suits, but the change came from within the system of government. If you’re into legalization, thank a lawyer, not a hippy.

Ideas of internal changes have been around me for a long time, but they really began to form a dozen years ago when I regularly performed as a singer-songwriter in Floyd, Virginia, and some small town festivals. Crowd pleasers like Van Morrison and Sublime would be interspersed with powerful songs about politics and war from Darrell Scott and Scott Miller, and then I’d move back to the Stones and bluegrass. Back and forth. Sugar and Salt. It’s a very subversive way to play to the crowd, but it was still me. I could maintain my audience while also only playing songs I liked or wrote.

The author playing Front Porch Fest 2011. Courtesy of Fallon Kreye Photography.

Around 2007, I was asked to play a charity event for the Blue Mountain School, an alternative system. They’ve always sought to bring the community together, but times were hard. When I arrived at the venue, several barefooted unwashed dreadlocked people were dancing outside the door wearing facepaint and glitter, beating djembe’s and tambourines, playing wood flutes – you know, young dirty white hippy shit (broad strokes here, people). They were asking the Friday Night Jamboree crowd for money and donations – the old traditional crowd of farmers, hillbillies and country folk typical of rural Floyd – the old system. I knew this wasn’t going to be productive.

I watched as old-timer after old-timer stared in disgust and walked quickly away, leaving the revelers empty-pocketed, frustrated, and dismayed. I played to a sparse crowd of mostly BMS parents. They might have broken even after paying for the venue, I don’t know. You see, the system they were soliciting was anything but open to them. Traditional country folk aren’t going to give money to just anybody, especially if you aren’t offering anything in return but your drum circle. I believe the attempt failed because they didn’t know how to play to the crowd. It’s hard to ask strangers for money when you’re too in their face. What’s that southern saying? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Fast-forward to 2019. The BMS has since changed administration, and ultimately its operation, back into a thriving community-minded school again. They’ve disguised the charity event as a Mardi Gras Ball, and who doesn’t love Mardi Gras? It is a well-known and more socially acceptable way to draw outsiders in without sacrificing the wonderful weirdness by which you live. It’s a party even rednecks can get behind, and they do. It sells out every year. Bring your honey and your money.

The author might be the masked man in the background. His honey is definitely the giraffe. Happy Mardi Gras for Blue Mountain School!

Whether in print or in person, I’ve often spoken of my dad being a career Marine, but I didn’t mention he was also a hippie. After his enlistment, he went to college on the G.I. Bill. His hair ran to his ass, his beard was long; he wore bell-bottoms and spoon rings and rose-colored glasses. He met my mom at the Yellow Deli, and it was love at first sight. He went back into the Marine Corps, applied to law school, and became a JAG. Even though he was a part of the system, he did his damnedest to fight for the rights of others. He did pro bono work for veterans after retirement and has openly expressed dismay for the persecution of LGBTQ in the military. My dad fought for those who could not, and he impressed upon me to do the same. “Stick up for others, Ben Kirkland.” he always said. “Even if it means getting your ass whipped in the process.”

The author and the ol’ man in 2012

How can we apply this to our pedagogy? Can we change a system from within? I definitely believe we need to look at ourselves critically, both personally and professionally. Our GEDI training has certainly asked me to question my preconceptions of what teaching is and could be. It’s caused me to reflect on my biases and actions, and more often, lack of actions. I’ve definitely had my moments to stand up for the right thing, but I’ve also had moment where I haven’t been vocal. Maybe it’s time to get my ass whipped again.

And by that, I do not mean to go out into the fray blindly, but to continually arm myself and others with information. We must create an environment conducive for critical thoughts and for preparing others to do the same. I haven’t always had it easy, but I damned sure haven’t had it as rough as I’ve seen. I’m a very privileged individual who needs to step up to the bar more. I must be ready “to fight at their side”, as Paulo Freire stated.

And to fight the good fight, we need to make the changes from within, because we need more lawyers in tie-dye underwear.

Learning to think: Critical Pedagogy

If you trace back in educational history, origins of Critical Pedagogy can be traced back to the time of Plato and Socrates. They recognised the importance of discussion for human interaction and for education

However, it was in the 1960s and 70s that Critical Pedagogy truly emerged as a theory and a distinct field of study, which was pioneered by the works of Paulo Freire.
But, the question is, If these ideas about teaching have been around for so long, why have the teachers not changed yet? Why we still circle around traditional teaching methods? Are traditional teaching methods that bad?

In the traditional approach to teaching methods, the teacher delivers explicit instruction and subject matter during the class. There are few students who question themselves about the subject matter and then there are students who blindly follow the instructions just to get through the class. With the increasing number of students and the limited time for a single subject, traditional way is more effective. But, does this method actually serve the main purpose of learning? do students learn?

If you just think about exams, YES students to learn how to answer the questions in the exam and get a good grade. But If you think about actually learning the concept NO.

Quote Paulo Freire ” Intellectuals who memorize everything reading for hours on end … fearful of taking a risk speaking as they were resiting from memory fail to make a connection between what they have read and what is happening in the real world… “

Because what I believe is explicit instruction does not allow students to develop as critical thinkers. One thing I observed as a TA is students can answer quantitative questions but if you ask the same question qualitatively they get stuck . Because most of the time what happens is you memorise the theory and you have explicit instructions to solve a problem but, you never question the theory and learn the concept behind it.
That is why it is important to promote critical thinking in the classroom and encourage students to question to make classroom highly interactive. It is better to have students who ask questions analyse and learn, rather than having unquestioning receivers.
As Carol Dweck demonstrates it is important to promote a growth mindset in the classroom, not a fixed mindset.
So, given the importance of an implicit classroom, LEARNING TO THINK is as important as the basic knowledge you get.