The first nine design questions in The Art and Science of Teaching deal with specific classroom behaviors. The 10th question is an omnibus question in that it asks how a teacher can use the previous nine questions to design effective lessons and then organize those lessons into a cohesive unit. There are a number of elements involved in such deliberation. One of the first is to think in terms of the overall focus of a unit. The focus of a unit can take one of three directions: (1) a focus on knowledge, (2) a focus on issues, or (3) a focus on student exploration. Each focus has implications as to how a unit plays out in terms of daily activities.
Each focus has a certain logic to it, and each has its own personality. A focus on knowledge is consistent with the current emphasis on standards. Acquisition of new information and skill is the driving force. A focus on issues places new knowledge in a supportive role. New information and skill is useful insofar as it helps illuminate an issue that is being examined. A focus on student exploration puts student interests at the center of planning. No set of issues or body of knowledge is preeminent. Rather, new knowledge and issues are used as stimuli to help students generate ideas and study topics of interest to them.
Reflecting on Your Current Beliefs and Practices