Learning? It's like riding a bike.

There is a belief in education that making pupils learn is like learning to ride a bike.

 Create a love of learning, point the learner in the right direction, let them learn, praise their achievement

This shows a simplistic way to develop learning. It had to be simplistic as tweets only allow 140 characters.

1 - Create a love of learning.

This is different to the bike analogy. The bike story needs someone to overcome the fear of falling off by promoting the idea of how much better their life will be if they achieve their goal. You'll no doubt agree that this doesn't promote a love of learning. However it does promote a desire to take risks because the rewards are worth it. Therefore I feel that learning is possible once pupils see what is in it for them.

My version would be Make them desire learning.

2 - Point the learner in the right direction.

This makes sense in a biking sense. You wouldn't want a child to learn how to ride a bike on anything other than a flat surface. Even better if the area is clear of other people too. In school we call this differentiation but collectively we don't really do it well. The direction and incline are very important. So is the terrain. However it's crucial that the learners know how far they are going. A direction alone isn't enough. Educating is like a vector: you need direction and magnitude.

Pupils need to know where they are now, where they are going and what they need to do to close the gap.

My version would be Give them clear instructions

3 - Let them learn.

That's right. Let them peddle. Let them develop some learning momentum. However they need to know how they are doing. Give them feedback to allow mistakes to be corrected, not embedded. Certainly give them opportunities to make mistakes. They need time to practise. But they need to be continually checking against the clear instructions.

My version would be Give them effective feedback on their progress

4 - Praise their achievement.

I think it's important to praise the process and praise the learner. Therefore praise is very important.

My version would be Praise.

Put this altogether.

Make them desire learning.Give clear instructions. Give effective feedback on their progress. Praise the right bit.

See. It's just like riding a bike.


  1. Craig - this is nice and simple. Not too sure about 4 though. Just praising is problematic. In order for feedback to be effective research has shown that praise must be separate. I'd go further: praise needs to be specific and helpful. http://learningspy.co.uk/2012/01/27/the-problem-with-praise/

  2. Thanks for your reply.
    I put feedback and praise separate for that reason. I feel that Dweck's work (1999) is so well known that I didn't need to mention it. It's true that praise has a small effect size (Visible Learning for teachers, Hattie, pg 121) but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't praise students. We should make sure we don't dilute the impact of feedback by praising at the wrong time.


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