Read this new article by Davis and Sumara (2010) on the weekend. In it, the authors challenge readers to consider a "change" focus versus a "challenge" stance in designs for learning. I plan to assign it to my student teachers for discussion and debate next semester. In the meantime, I encourage educators to read and contribute to the discussion using the comments feature on the CEA Website: http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada
Here is what I posted:
This is a thoughtful and important article to discuss with my student teachers - Thanks for the great read! Two parts that really resonated with me:
"... teaching that is focused on challenging learners is organized around the much more demanding tasks of setting situations that allow students to negotiate the level of difficulty, of trusting they will choose the tougher route when they are able, of really listening to where they’re coming from and what they know."
--- the design of meaningful work and learning opportunities, introducing challenging ideas, trusting students to make good choices and to engage, and attentive listening to learners
" [teachers] are doubtlessly challenging their students, refusing to make things easy and constantly expecting more than of learners than learners might imagine themselves capable."
--- Seymour Papert introduced an idea decades ago, "hard fun", that relates to a key idea that you are describing here - learners want to be challenged and engaged in a scholarly community of inquiry, and in these communities they thrive. Ref: http://www.papert.org/works.html