I find that if I am able to get students discussing the topic and taking seriously the valid ideas they come up with then there is usually a higher level of engagement. Some of them also start to realise that they know more about the topic than they originally thought, they might even have an opinion. The buzzword seems to be ‘dialogic’ teaching, when I was at university we talked about ‘Socratic’ method. To me it is just common sense engagement.
I am a firm believer that if education is to be of value it will require us to question everything. I try to encourage my students to start from the point that ‘everything you know is wrong’. This is not meant to be taken literally but if we start from the point that there is always something else to learn then we will be more inquisitive and this will make us better learners. Instilling this curiosity will create a higher level of intrinsic motivation. The desire to learn for the sake of learning. This will also turn us into lifelong learners if this way of thinking is how we approach all aspects of life.
I find that the New Zealand curriculum gives us the freedom to do this and even NCEA does as well if managed properly. The problem seems to be that there has become a constant drive to have specific measurable indicators and this has made current high school education become more of a drive to pump out credits. League tables tell us which are the best schools based on the numerical number of credits at different levels. This is not what education should be. We have become guilty of attaching economic significance to education. The value is what we can earn and how it sets us up to function in an economically motivated society.