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Girls Grammar Curriculum Catch-Up: Buy a Ladder

Updated: May 18, 2023

Every day, each of us face the challenges of learning something new. I recently had a discussion with Dr Fry in relation to some new ideas presented within our teaching pedagogies. His comment to me was “I am so far down the Learning Pit that I may need to buy a new ladder to climb out”. Remember we all experience challenges when it comes to learning something new.

Building upon the concept of a Growth Mindset discussed in previous articles, it is important to also explore the concept of 'The Learning Pit'. 'The Learning Pit', developed by James Nottingham in 2007, is closely linked to Carole Dweck's Growth Mindset from 2006. Essentially, it represents the understanding that learning happens when we step outside of our comfort zones. This is especially true for all learners, but I would like to direct this article at our senior students. To those in Year 11, you may be feeling overwhelmed with your new subjects, and to Year 12, you are deep in the learning pit with your Unit 4 content.

As lifelong students, we must realise that taking risks involves allowing ourselves to make mistakes along our learning journey. These mistakes, along with asking questions and being courageous enough to try new things, play a crucial role in our learning process. Initially, when faced with challenging or difficult new concepts, we find ourselves in 'The Learning Pit'. This can be a result of encountering new information, being encouraged by a teacher or parent, or simply knowing that it's where we learn best.

When we encounter a new concept or idea in class, various emotions, thoughts, and feelings come into play; at first, we may believe we know the answer. This is when we stand at the edge of the learning pit, experimenting with new skills and ideas. As we delve deeper into the concept, we may discover that it's not as easy as we initially thought. Acquiring knowledge, mastering skills and processes, or understanding confusing aspects can present challenges. We might encounter contradictions in our learning and need to piece it all together.

This stage often leads to doubting our abilities, thinking we cannot overcome the challenges. It's common to explore all our options at the bottom of the pit. The smart choice here is to climb out of the pit. Moving upwards, we begin to put in more effort to understand the challenging concepts or processes. This is an active decision we make to progress on our learning journey. We work diligently to make sense of everything. The more effort we invest, the easier it becomes. We may even start to grasp the concept and feel a sense of accomplishment. Here, we are climbing up and over the edge on the other side of the pit. Remember Dr Fry having to buy a ladder? While we still encounter challenges along the way, our hard work pays off. We start to connect and explain different aspects of the newly acquired knowledge. Finally, we emerge from the pit, triumphant and enlightened. We have exerted significant effort on our learning journey and now understand the previously challenging concepts and processes. We can apply and relate this newfound knowledge.

It is crucial for all of us to decide to navigate through these challenges. We learn from our mistakes, and since learning is a lifelong journey, we will continue to make them.

Further information can be found at

Christie Dey

Director of Secondary



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