Better Education Conference Workshop Led by James Nottingham (Challenge Learning UK)
Summary by Marilyn Louwen
When we face a new concept or experience we may ‘wobble’, which is interesting not boring.
It is good to face new challenges, to wobble and see that they are an interesting way to develop our thinking and knowledge. If students experience difficulty they are more likely to remember the concept. The learning pit is a picture of how students can be taught to accept the challenge.
By identifying the concept that is to be grasped we then present the conflicting ideas that will cause a ‘wobble’ to challenge thinking. We may take an idea and turn it around to cause the thinking. For example the concept of friendship – a friend is someone who has the same interests as me but is everyone who has those interests always a friend? We encourage students to work collaboratively together in ‘the pit’ of learning to research and explore the concept until they get it. Once they grasp the concept they move out to the construct phase of the pit but may go back in to assist someone who is still challenged. Students are then encouraged to consider the application of this concept and move forward to the next concept.
A positive, healthy mindset of being open to learning is important as we want all students to continue learning rather than rest on their achievements or see themselves as unable to learn. As teachers we are to challenge learning by posing conflicts that expand students thinking. The learning pit is a way of achieving this.