The Liminal Space


Figure 1. Liminal.

The liminal space is that “in-between” space; it is that interval where you are “between understandings”, and there are feelings of ambiguity, “unknowing”, transition, incubation, suspense, and perhaps disorientation. It’s a place where previous understandings are challenged and old perspectives are jettisoned, ushering in transformational learning.

Didau (2016, February 10) aptly states, “Learning is a messy, complicated business. Imagine yourself standing before a dark, ominous doorway. Through it you can glimpse something previously unimagined, but entering it and crossing it entails a risk – anything might happen. Not passing through, while safe, means you will never know what’s on the other side.”


Figure 2. Growth versus comfort.

Growth and comfort cannot simultaneously reside within the liminal space (DaWaal, n.d.); you need to exit your comfort zone in order for transformational learning to occur.

Although the liminal is an intangible, abstract conceptual space, it is nevertheless an extremely crucial and important space which is inextricably woven into all other learning spaces.

The challenges for educators are, therefore, two-fold:

  1. Engineering learning experiences that extend the students and transport them through a portal to a new perspective or framework of understanding; this, in essence, is transformational learning.
  2. Scaffolding the students’ emotional persona – giving them the support, encouragement and time that they need to traverse through this space.


Figure 1. Liminal. Retrieved from

Figure 2. Growth versus comfort. Retrieved from


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