Health policy and systems research (HPSR) students often have to learn and do things that are outside their comfort zones. There is the new knowledge, but also the teaching style, types of thinking they are encouraged to do, and nature of student tasks and assessments. This is all good and well – after all, what is higher education for? However, if these leaps outside their comfort zones are taken too far and too soon, it will mostly leave students baffled, demotivated and not learning much of anything. This blog explores the educational concept of scaffolding. Scaffolding can help us to navigate many of the dilemmas that we face in teaching HPSR, so maximising in-course learning and interest in our work as we build this emerging field.