Thursday, October 2, 2014

Play-Based Personalized Learning: The Walker Learning Approach

The Walker Learning Approach (WLA) is an Australian-designed teaching and learning approach (pedagogy) that authentically personalizes learning and is developmentally and culturally appropriate. Learning is real, relevant, and meaningful for all children regardless of their age, culture, family context, socioeconomic background, or geographical position. 

The Walker Learning Approach has been developed over twenty years using an action research model. The Walker Learning Approach is the first pedagogy to be designed for Australian schools, successfully providing teaching and learning that
  • personalizes and engages learners in active learning alongside explicit and formalized instruction.
  • is culturally and developmentally appropriate across all demographic regions of the country, from remote indigenous communities to elite independent schools.
The pedagogical platform places the child at the center and uses developmental psychology, biology, and neurology alongside cultural and environmental influences as the basis for practical application across the Australian setting. Developmental psychology in recent years has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by some aspects of the educational academic forum with the assumption that the Piagetian model of a lockstep, monocultural stage (“norm”) of developmental milestones prevails.

How do we facilitate the work of youth as self-directed producers and learners?

This is not what developmental psychology in the twenty-first century purports, nor does it represent the platform of the Walker Learning Approach. Developmental psychology recognizes key elements of genetic predisposition; assists in areas of temperament and personality; informs greatly in areas of brain development and stimulation; is cross-cultural; and informs in key areas including motivation, engagement, behavior, development, cognitive function, learning, and areas requiring intervention. It works alongside recognition of the influences of culture, environment, health, nutrition, and exposure and opportunity. The need to integrate and work in tandem with the empirical evidence of science, psychology, neuropsychology, and cultural influences on learning is critical, and the WLA does just that.

The Walker Learning Approach is an exciting and refreshing philosophy that places the child at the center of the curriculum and teaching strategies; it ensures authentic personalized learning. It is based on decades of research on play-based and personalized learning and social constructivism. It is not a program or an inquiry model sitting discreetly or separately from other curriculum areas. It is a total approach to teaching and learning that combines the need for children to be active participants in their learning through hands-on and creative exploration and investigation that sits alongside formal instruction. 

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