I often thought students weren't smart enough to understand the content unless I was telling it to them. Perhaps this was reinforced in collegial discussions where other teachers said students can't read and understand at grade level. Or, this was internally as a result of my conceptions about students. What really mattered in the end is that I taught by telling.
Kids are way smarter than we think they are. Teachers, maybe adults in general, don't think they understand something unless it is explained to them, or if we tell them what's important. Growing up I understood a ton of things without having to have them explained to me. I relied on my powers of observation and intuition to figure things out. Kids do the same today, and we have to give them all the credit for being powerful learners.
Telling kids what to learn and how to learn is the greatest disservice. They are smart, they are quick to observe, they are intuitive, and most of all they know how to learn.
Think of a time when parents taught their toddlers how to say every word. Parents don't do this. They talk and toddlers pick up on the connotation and denotation of words by hearing adults use them. The point is that kids know how to learn. As teachers, we need to realize this and challenge them to learn and stop assuming they can't understand something because we haven't told it to them.
On my personal learning journey I've come to realize how wrong I was to tell students what they needed to know. I should have been challenging them to research, read, and create their learning in age appropriate ways.
Today I immerse students in real life contextualized learning that challenges them. I design it so there is a sufficient ill-structured problem with guidance and coaching from me to get them from one point of learning to the next. They research, read, listen, view, and then create their own learning.