It is a truth universally acknowledged that pupils do not learn all that they are taught. They may learn something, they may even learn a lot, but it may not be a lot of what we think we have taught them or they may struggle to apply knowledge successfully. In this book, bestselling author Alex Quigley characterises how the long and winding road of successful learning is paved with many failures along the way.

Presenting eight key reasons why learning fails, alongside concepts from cognitive science and research evidence explained concisely and accessibly, the chapters span issues of pupils’ limited memory, their patchwork prior knowledge, flawed planning, struggles with independent learning, motivation, limits of attention, and more. Each chapter explores real-life examples of key learning failures and what can be done about it, before ending with five steps to success, along with practical teaching strategies and tools that can be used to secure success in every classroom.

Packed with practical advice and examples for teachers across all phases at every stage of their teaching career, this book offers a vital guide to support pupils to overcome common barriers to learning and go on to flourish while challenging the societal stereotypes that see us shy away from failures.

chapter |9 pages


chapter Learning failure #1|15 pages

The narrow limits of working memory

chapter Learning failure #2|14 pages

Patchy prior knowledge

chapter Learning failure #3|14 pages

The nagging nature of misconceptions

chapter Learning failure #4|13 pages

A curious case of overconfidence

chapter Learning failure #5|14 pages

Faulty planning strategies

chapter Learning failure #6|19 pages

An inability to learn independently

chapter Learning failure #7|15 pages

Wandering attention and miserly mental effort

chapter Learning failure #8|15 pages

Falling motivation in the face of failure

chapter |12 pages

Supporting teachers to succeed