1. Challenge and Engagement

Resources, ideas and prompts for discussion related to Challenge and Engagement

So that…pupils have high expectations of what they can achieve, and content is made relevant.

What is Challenge and why is it important?

“Put simply, challenge in education is the provision of difficult work that causes students to think deeply and engage in healthy struggle” – Allison and Tharby (Making Every Lesson Count)

Research shows that our expectations of students (perhaps controversially) can have a profound effect not only on how we interact with them but also on their future achievement. Some overarching principles are needed to help use challenge appropriately in the classroom:

  • It is not about the ‘most able’.
  • All students deserve us to view them with high expectations, all of the time.
  • Struggle just beyond the comfort zone is good, it is where students are likely to learn the most.
From ‘Making Every Lesson Count’ Chapter 1.

The desired aim would be to move students out of their comfort zone and into the struggle zone, avoiding pushing things too far and inducing panic ensuring that working memory is not overloaded.

The pages in this section explore various ideas around challenge a little further.

Associated further reading and references:

  • ‘Chapter 1: Challenge’, in Allison, S. and Tharby, A., 2017. Making Every Lesson Count. Carmarthen: Crown House.

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