Learning Pit Learning Pit Learning Pit

Learning Pit

The Learning Challenge: guiding students through the Learning Pit

Known by many as the Learning Pit, the Learning Challenge is used around the world to promote challenge, dialogue and a growth mindset. It was created by James Nottingham.

The Learning Challenge was designed by James Nottingham, co-founder of our company.

The Learning Challenge is for the teachers, leaders and support staff who wish to guide their students in the development of critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking. It is a model that provides learners with a language to think and talk about learning. It helps build participants’ resilience, wisdom and self-efficacy. And when it is used as a structure for learning, it can also improve teacher clarity and raise expectations of success.

The Learning Challenge (LC) is designed to help students think and talk about their learning. In some ways, it is a child-friendly representation of Vygotsky’s (1978) zone of proximal development in that it describes the move from actual to potential understanding. It can help develop a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006), prompt people to explore alternatives and contradictions, and encourage learners to willingly step outside their comfort zone.


Books Available

These books share the very best ways to guide students through the Learning Pit.

The Learning Challenge (2017) gives the theory and practice of the Learning Pit, and is available in English, Dutch, Danish  and Swedish. The “Learning Challenge Lessons” books all share resources and ideas for engaging students in fascinatingly challenging lessons – the first is for Primary School children (aged 5-12); the ELA book is for secondary students (aged 11-18) studying literature; and the Maths book for secondary students studying maths.



The Learning Challenge

By James Nottingham (2017)

The Learning Challenge describes the theory and practice of guiding students through the ‘Learning Pit’. It is a practical book filled with ideas for making lessons engaging, thought provoking and collaborative.


This book includes so many worthwhile processes to invoke the various stages of learning, to show the connections between these stages, and to identify evidence of impact from techniques that have been tried and tested in many contexts around the world by James Nottingham and his team. It is a pleasure reading a book that puts the challenge back into learning.

John Hattie, 2017

Learning Challenge Lessons

By Jill Nottingham and James Nottingham 

with Mark Bollom, Joanne Nugent and Lorna Pringle 

Created to accompany The Learning Challenge, the twenty lessons collected in these books grapple with timely concepts and provide teachers with everything needed to run thoughtful, dialogue-driven challenges for students.

Each lesson engages students around an exciting topic of current importance—including social media, health, friendship, space exploration, language, fairness, and other issues—and invites students into the “Learning Pit” to explore their thoughts with others through dialogue.


Learning Challenge Graphics

Here is an ever-growing collection of graphics designed by the Challenging Learning team. You are welcome to use them for educational purposes free of charge. 

Create your own Learning Pits

This collection should help you to create your own learning pits. The graphics can be blended together in whichever way you prefer (we recommend using PowerPoint or Keynote to do this). The extract from James’s book will give you an insight into the important aspects of learning pits; and the video by James will share a couple of key points about drawing learning pits (specifically to make sure the right hand side of the pit is higher than the left).

Copyright notice: The materials contained in this database are copyrighted, and the availability of these materials does not constitute a transfer of any intellectual property rights. James Nottingham encourages users to download, customise and use these materials to support learning but the materials and any derivatives created by users may not be sold or distributed without the written consent of Challenging Learning.

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Drawing a Pit

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