John Morgan

Why difficulty is desirable in the classroom

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The concept of desirable difficulties states that if something is harder to learn, it is more likely to stick in the memory. Many teachers are already aware of this approach, but how can you actually make it work for your students? John Morgan finds out

Why difficulty is desirable in the classroom

You may remember a scenario like this: you painstakingly learn your GCSE French vocab and get it 100 per cent right in the mini test you set yourself. Then, when you go back to it two days later, most of it has vanished from your memory. You want to unleash a volley of French expletives – but you can’t remember any. Instead, you fling the book at the wall, sulk for a bit and then return to the task of pushing the boulder up the hill once again by relearning it all, weeping bitter tears of inadequacy all over your revision timetable.

At the time, this kind of thing feels like failure ...

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