Explaining which is also known as KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER is a content-driven approach which does not focus on the process of learning, and is probably only directed at achieving the first three cognitive levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, namely knowing, understanding and applying.
Little or no room is left for in-depth application of what was learned and the chances of learners progressing to the higher levels of insightful thinking remain slim. Learners remain passive receivers of pre-ordained truths (definitions, rules, laws); their thinking skills are not nurtured to allow them to question the pre-ordained truths, and it is questionable whether learning is enjoyable.
Learners in behavioristic classrooms are expected to sit, listen and follow the lecturing stimuli, which teachers reinforce by explaining it repeatedly and by using different examples. Learners who meet the pre-set learning objectives pass the course or academic year as a reward, and learners’ successes are measured in terms of how well they achieve and meet the curriculum requirements, which mainly focus on mastering content.
Such teachers are interested in learners’ final achievements and scores and not so much in their learning journey. Despite all the efforts of teachers to explain content to learners and to reinforce the content through rehearsal, memorizing of content does not necessarily lead to the development of higher-order skills, such as critical and creative thinking that would engage learners in a deeper understanding of the content. In addition, learners tend to forget more than they can recall, when memorizing content.
Curriculum-led, behavioristic teachers believe that learning is about assimilation of information. They believe in the traditional saying that ‘knowledge is power’, and therefore see their main task as sharing their knowledge, providing answers, instead of enabling learners to work out answers for themselves. This approach to teaching could result in both teachers and learners believing that thinking skills will start emerging during employment.
To teach for critical thinking, teachers need to understand how Bloom’s taxonomy could guide teaching, learning and thinking in the classroom in order to move away from a curriculum-led, content-driven approach to teaching that often only focuses on the lower levels of thinking (knowledge, comprehension and application).