The Pit Have you heard the story of the donkey in the well?
Does learning about the pit help children to struggle for longer before they give up?
How did we select the group? The children were chosen according to our observations of their level of resilience and tenacity when faced with a challenge. Initially our thoughts were to choose children across gender and attainment, however we realised there was no correlation between these groups and resilience. Identified children included those from across the attainment span.
Introducing the wider concept: Initially, focus children were given an opportunity to play the game ‘Rush Hour’ (an open-ended problem solving game, appealing across age and gender). Children across both key stages were given the same tasks which increased in complexity as challenges were successfully completed. Children were observed and timed: • For how long did they persevere? • How did they feel when they succeeded/failed? • What strategies did they use? Did they cheat?! Classes were introducedto the concept of ‘The Pit’, through age-appropriate means. Children were given the opportunity to reflect on what it feels like to struggle and succeed. (See film)
Intended impact: • Increased resilience, stickability, helping oneself, turning adult help away. Focus on and measure with the selected group but should apply to the whole class.
What did the children say? “I kept going because I know there has to be an answer. I kept changing the cars until I found it.” – Yr R “Try, try, try… and concentrate. I’m a very Resilient Rhino!” Yr 1 “If you give up you never get your goal, but you should not always go the same way.” Yr 4 “It is possible, but it feels impossible.” – Yr 4 “When I’m playing games, I stick at it because I know I will one day get the Golden Coin.” – Yr 5 “How much is the Rush Hour App?!” – Yr 6
How did practice change? • Year R – Greater focus on verbalising what it feels like to struggle and understanding that everyone shares that feeling at times. • Year 1 – Lots of discussion revolves around acknowledging when we are in The Pit. Self-assessment used via the individual Pit diagrams. • Year 4 – Class discussions often revolve around The Pit and individual diagrams are used for the children to assess their own learning. These help to identify strategies to enable them to move forward and ‘climb out’. • Year 5 – The Pit has become an open area of discussion and is now an embedded tool integral to supporting classroom learning. • Year 6 – The children use the display in their classroom to draw upon a wider range of strategies to help them than they would have used previously. General comments: Teacher/TA ‘modelling’ use of The Pit and appropriate strategies to get out. The use of the Rush Hour game led children to demonstrate greater resilience as they knew it was a game and therefore should have a solution.
What next? The Pit has become an integral part of teaching and learning in the focus classes. We all feel that it has become beneficial in allowing children to realise that it is acceptable to struggle. It has encouraged them to become more proactive in solving their own problems. It is often most effective in one to one discussions with children. We look forward to sharing our findings with colleagues.