Best Practice

Teaching & learning: Desirable difficulties

When planning lessons, we should not worry about students getting stuck, we should worry about them not getting stuck. Caroline Sherwood explains

Learning is hard. It is understandable that teachers should strive to make learning easier for their students.

During feedback from an observation early in my career, my observer questioned that once I had set a learning task up, lots of hands went up and students seemed to struggle. My discussion with my observer went something like this:

“That’s because I’d planned something challenging for them to learn.”

“Perhaps you could think about planning a settler task, something they can just get on with.”

“But a task that requires no struggle suggests they wouldn’t be learning.”

“But it would settle them at the start.”

“I don’t want them settled. I want them active. I want them learning something.”

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