The Struggle of Learning

“I will buy you some LEGO if you get to 10…” My son took the bait!!! Let the struggle begin!!!

Over the weekend we have spent a lot of time in the garden with the beautiful weather we had. During lockdown we have left lots of bats, balls and equipment out in the garden to keep us engaged and active. My son picked up a skipping rope on Saturday evening and I set him the challenge, in the next 20 minutes get to 10 skips and I will buy you some LEGO. I was interested to see what he did!

He has always struggled with skipping! Now aged 10 and still makes a very uncoordinated movement when skipping. He has always said to me that he hates skipping, finding it VERY frustrating! I always felt he hated it because he couldn’t do it and felt little motivation to learn because he couldn’t do it!!! Quite an interesting conundrum to explain to a child.

So, he had 20 minutes to earn himself some LEGO!!! He was totally focussed and determined. I was interesting to see what would happen!!! Within the first 10 minutes of the challenge the struggle was real, we had sweat, tears, tantrums, frustration, anger and finally some blood! Somehow he injured himself with the skipping rope! So the challenge was off for the evening. That was the end of the challenge as far as I was concerned but he continued the discussion and negotiation for him to continue the next day.

It has been a LONG time since I have seen him so determined! It was great! Again, I was intrigued to see what he did when we agreed on him achieving 20 skips! A tough challenge and one that I wasn’t sure he would get to.

As I watched him it got me thinking about how we learn new skills and reminded me of the idea that learning has to involve STRUGGLE. This was fully on display! Similar to the evening before we had tears, tantrums, anger, injury, frustration, discussion, negotiation, perseverance and lots more that we could not see I am sure!

Eventually he achieved the goal (in fact achieving 34 skips!!!) I couldn’t believe it!!

Less than 24 hours before he couldn’t get past 5 and I thought my bet was safe. Certainly showed me that learning is fascinating and children (when provided with opportunity, and maybe a little extrinsic motivation) are capable of brilliant things. Will certainly be looking for more STRUGGLE in situations going forwards and the many different ways that I am sure children will react and respond.


  1. Kevin Carpenter on June 19, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Just goes to show what can be achieved with determination and will power… (and like you said Neil, a little reward Incentive)

    • Neil Plimmer on June 20, 2020 at 1:13 pm

      Thought this summed up much of what we spoke about Kev 😉 Will be in touch soon with info on JOLF club

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