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The Learning Pit illustration: a journey from left to right; an individual faces a learning challenge represented by a large pit they need to reach the other side of. Having fallen down into the pit, the challenge seems more difficult than first anticipated. As the picture becomes clearer they discover what they need to climb up the other side to a point where they can look back down at the pit having mastered the challenge.

The Learning Pit

James Nottingham's metaphor of The Learning Pit illustrates the struggle before "getting it."

It's the learning journey of approaching a new concept, uncovering conflicts or contradictions with your knowledge, confusion, beginning to put new ideas together and finally the clarity of a new concept mastered.

There are natural parallels to other models like the stages of competence, Lev Vygotsky's zone of proximal development, or Carol Dweck's growth mindset.

Here's a nice animated video explaining the Learning Pit if you're curious.

The Learning Pit was created by James Nottingham (2007, 2010, 2017). More details at:

Nottingham, J.A. (2007). Exploring the Learning Pit. Teaching Thinking and Creativity, 8:2(23), 64–68. Birmingham, UK: Imaginative Minds
Nottingham, J.A. (2010). Challenging Learning (1st ed.). Alnwick, Northumberland, UK: JN Publishing.
Nottingham, J.A. (2017). The Learning Challenge: How to Guide Your Students Through the Learning Pit. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Thanks to Julia Silver of Qualified Tutor for educating me about it.

You’re welcome to use and share this image and text for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Go wild!
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