What is the Liminal Space?

A between space, a threshold between what was once understood, and what is next to be known .

Leslie Schwartzman, in “Threshold Concepts & Transformational Learning” is quoted as saying:

“Real Learning requires stepping into the unknown, which initiates a rupture in   knowing ….”

Thinking of students that I have known, it becomes clear how some of them are able to embrace these “thresholds” and move through them, whilst others are “stuck’, and take much longer or sometimes indeed do not move on at all. If we want our students to really learn rather than just retain, then as educators we really do need to be aware of The Liminal Space as a Learning Space, for both ourselves and our students.

An AHA moment occurred for me when reading the article …to quote:

“We might therefore imagine that the most significant aspect of learning lies not in the outcomes of learning, but in the process of learning.” Julie Timmermans.

By understanding this process , we can assist our students in their learning journey. And by understanding the importance of the Liminal Space within this Learning journey, we can provide the type of activities, and strategies that best promote the Liminal Space.

Learning experiences and activities such as

  • incursions/excursions
  • challenging questions
  • readings from different perspectives
  • role plays

…all assist in our students become critical thinkers and reflectors. It is this which assists them to move through the thresholds from one understanding to another.

At the moment our educational system is pretty much all out the outcomes, not much thought is given to how the students got to those outcomes. But as we become more and more aware of the importance of the “process of learning’, the Liminal Space will hopefully become a space to be encouraged.


Thanks to the following articles/image:


What Is A Liminal Space?