Desirable Difficulties

Class Teaching


A guest post from DHS MFL Teacher Matthieu Cauchy.

I first heard about this very recently. Earlier on this week, I was talking to blogger and pedagogue, our very own Andy Tharby. Whilst discussing various topics, Andy introduced me to the concept of ‘interleaving’. I thought: ‘Wow, he sounds very clever!’  I wanted to know more in order to be in a position where I could sound clever too! So, right after lunch duty, I googled ‘interleaving’. I then read about ‘desirable difficulties’ and it’s been a Eureka moment since then!

1. What is a desirable difficulty?

(a) A situation which makes something harder to learn initially (harder to ‘encode’), but nevertheless makes it easier to recall and apply at a later time (easier to ‘retrieve’).


(b) It is basically the idea of ‘No pain, no gain’.   For example in cycling or running, doing hill repetitions once a…

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