Improving the Quality of Our Classroom Discussions

Think about how we assign readings and discussion questions.
Let me exaggerate (am I?) and say that we engineer the amount of reading based on a reading rate of words per minute, and convert that into pages, and then assign "x" number of pages.
We select readings that "surround" the answer we want the students to "find", and then we check in the classroom to see if the kids found the Easter eggs we hid in a safe part of the yard.
Is that a procedure that will "reliably" encourage the development of critical and creative thinking?
Why would we think that?
What a graduate school give the students an interesting question and ask them to return in "x" days, with an argument, researched, reflected upon, and presented as an entry into discourse?
Would a grad school confine the students to a sterile, preordained pasture of safe answers, with well worn paths and school solutions?
As responsible, innovative graduate school teachers, we should prohibit 1/4 of the class, on a rotating basis, from reading the "assigned" reading, and simply turn them loose to find what they will find; their job is to come back with something interesting and report it, with their reflections, in an interesting way; justifying why it is of interest to their peers, and defending their claims.
Whenever I have tried this approach, it has always been an eye and mind opening experience, but rarely predictable.
It places an extra burden on the professor, to be very widely read and skilled in the arts of collaborative learning in discursive knowledge creation.
It means you have to be open to the possibility of going places in the classroom that you hadn't planned on but which seem right in the moment.
It requires you to conduct thorough after action analysis of what actually occurred in the classroom to determine if your educational outcomes have been achieved.