Demand High - The Originators

In case reading the content of this website has given anyone the impression I came up with the idea of "Demand High", I didn't!


Demand High is a way of teaching  which grabbed my imagination on first stumbling across a post by Adrian Underhill. Can't remember exactly where or when but there is a comprehensive blog page jointly written by Adrian and his colleague Jim Scrivener which explains it all much better than I ever could.


Without wanting to be a copy cat or appropriate their "slogan", I wracked my brains for an alternative phrase which embodies what I wanted to express. I simply could think of nothing better. So I wrote to Adrian asking whether he minded me using the "demand high" words in conjunction with my work. He was very magnanimous in pointing out he and Jim had no copy write on the words and was happy to share.  We also shared some thoughts on crossing points between Demand High ELT teaching and using a Thinking Environment in class. Again, his words are better than mine, which you can read in a comment he left after the first blog post. Thanks Adrian!


Where Demand high and "demanding high silently" meet

The basic intention behind staying silent for as long as possible, is to give the time and space for my learners to think "more, much more" and to grow "the potential for deep learning". (Scrivener & Underhill, 2015)


Once they are done with thinking and have provided an answer, I gently prompt further thinking, perhaps with a simple "why?" Or sometimes, "Anything else?" or "What more could there be?"


Occasionally, depending on the student-teacher rapport, a non-verbal "ah-ha" mixed with genuine curiosity and interest in "where the client will go next in their thinking" (Kline, 2014) is enough.


To me, I am demanding higher of my learners when I teach this way. Which ties in nicely with how Jim & Adrian describe what Demand High asks:

  • Are our learners capable of more, much more?
  • Have the tasks and techniques we use in class become rituals and ends in themselves?
  • How can we stop “covering material” and start focusing on the potential for deep learning?
  • What small tweaks and adjustments can we make to shift the whole focus of our teaching towards getting that engine of learning going?

A Moment for Reflection

How do you ask more of your students? What does "demand high" look like in your classroom? What more could you do to facilitate even more and deeper learning tomorrow?



Kline, N. (2014). Improving Thinking Through Coaching - Interview with Nancy Kline. YouTube. Retrieved 30 March 2016, from


Scrivener, J., & Underhill, A. (2015). What is Demand High?. Demand High ELT. Retrieved 30 March 2016, from