Best Practice

Challenge in the primary classroom: Challenge as architecture

The idea of challenge is indispensable to the planning of the curriculum – it sits at the very heart of our curriculum architecture. Across three articles, Robbie Burns looks at planning for challenge. In part one, he sets out the foundations of challenge

We often talk about challenge as if it is a clear idea that everyone understands; my experience is rather different. Its definition alludes us. For this reason, over the course of three articles I want to set out a definition that is deep enough to have durability but flexible enough to be used as a basis for all curriculum design work.


Challenge as architecture

We do not think deeply enough about the meaning of challenge. It is common to find articles about challenge citing research from cognitive science such as Bjork’s theory of desirable difficulties (2020) or Sweller’s cognitive load theory (Lovell, 2020; Sweller et al, 2011); sometimes Dweck’s work on growth mindset too (Dweck, 2016).

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