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The Learning Pit


The Learning Pit is about learning to know what to do when you don’t know what to do

Now that winter is here and the weather is cold, it may be tempting for some students to go into a form of  ‘hibernation’ as work demands increase. This means that when they feel stuck in their learning, their first reaction is to give up or seek instant help before they really have a go at stepping up to the challenge. James Nottingham, a well-known educationalist, describes this as ‘The Learning Pit’ where the real deep and powerful learning can take place.

When facing a difficulty, the first important step is to jump into the pit and ‘have a go’, knowing that there will be an associated level of discomfort.  Students need to understand that this confusion and frustration is a natural part of learning and that pushing through this fear is the first step in trying to solve the problem. Using different approaches and reflecting on failed attempts often brings a deeper understanding of what is being learnt. Finally, successfully emerging on the other side of the learning pit is a very rewarding experience as it builds resilience and persistence.

A short, two minute cartoon on The Learning Pit is available via the following link: We all have times when we need to ‘play in the pit’ to get through a difficult situation. It is important that we help our children and each other to know what to do when we don’t know what to do!

Sonia Nelson
Deputy Principal

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