It’s hard to get many teachers, especially those of a certain generation, to come to terms with the idea of the classroom being a less teacher centred space.
Interestingly, in the places where I have taught in SE Asia, the rigid, teacher centred, students sitting in rows approach is still very much adhered to. As teachers we were strongly discouraged from doing anything ‘radical’ to upset the overall tone of the school.
I recall my Year 6 English class and my Year 8 English class reacting to sitting on the carpet for a story for the first time. Their faces were covered with glee at the idea. It seems that in other classes they had never, even as young students, been allowed to sit on the floor for any reason. So this truly was a new experience for them. Also, this idea of listening to a story just for the enjoyment of it was foreign to them.
Another issue that I brought to their attention was the idea that I could be fallible. Students have it ingrained that teachers are the font of knowledge and that if a teacher says it then it must be true. I encouraged them to question information if they thought it was wrong and to politely debate issues brought up in class. I remember telling them on day 1 that I was, on occasion, going to tell them lies and that it was up to them to decide if I was telling the truth. This definitely encouraged these students to question information and to draw their own conclusions.
I remember my own teacher, back in the 1970’s encouraging us to learn by giving us some information in class and then setting us loose in the library to research these topics more in depth. I loved going to school in those days. He has been a role model for me in my own teaching.