The Liminal Learning Space…

“‘Pax Intrantibus, salus exeuntibus’. Peace to those who are entering, and safety to those about to depart”. (Land, Meyer & Baillie, 2010, p. ix).

Many times I have stood on the threshold “betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown” (Rohr, in Pier Learning, 2016), feeling the discomfort, fear and uncertainty which often accompanies this troublesome space. It was a revelation then, reading Land et al (2010), to name this space…the Liminal.

Understanding this transformative state as the gateway to new perspectives, new learnings and a reformulation of prior frames of reference gives value to the necessity of allowing oneself to occupy and even embrace liminality. Crossing the threshold requires a deep structural shift in thinking and can disrupt many parts of life (Land, Rattray & Vivian, 2014).

Looking into the classroom it becomes obvious that the liminal space would be frequently occupied by students as we encourage them towards new learning. That child who appears “stuck” is teetering on the edge. Baillie, Kabo & Reader (2012) describe these times as “jewels because of the opportunity they provide for learners to gain crucial understandings and for teachers to gauge the conceptual development of their learners” (p. 205).

Identifying student’s liminal spaces, modelling and providing a safe, supportive environment to negotiate them becomes paramount in our teaching. As for myself, students naming these feelings and learning to recognise and embrace their own & others liminality can build skills which give rise to increased self-efficacy (Cherry, 2017).



Baillie, C., Kabo, J., Reader, J. (2012). Heterotopia: Alternative pathways to social justice. Winchester and Washington: Zero Books

Land, R., Meyer, J. & Baillie, C. (2010). Threshold Concepts and Tranformational Learning. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers

Land, R., Rattray, J. & Vivian, P. (2014). Learning in the Liminal Space: A Semiotic Approach to Threshold Concepts. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 67(2), 199-217.

Pier Learning. (2016). What Is A Liminal Space? Retrieved from



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