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Kathy Walker began her teaching in the early childhood years of education. Kathy began her academic career at Swinburne and then at RMIT University for 15 years in early childhood, primary and adult education. During her time at RMIT, she commenced consulting with schools on how to increase student engagement and personalise learning through effective teaching and learning strategies. Kathy's areas of expertise are curriculum theory and design and child development from birth to12 years.
A major part of Kathy's research and consultancy in schools during her time as an academic included the development, design and trialling of her curriculum initiative. The process of design, development and empirical testing of this curriculum took over 5 years. The end result was the curriculum named "The Walker Learning Approach".
The Walker Learning Approach is based on rigorous research and theory; and this specific curriculum design is unique to Australia whilst utilising many teaching and learning strategies from schools across the world in relation to student engagement and child development theory.
The Walker Learning Approach is a refreshing philosophy that places the child at the centre of the curriculum and teaching strategies; it ensures authentic personalised learning. Formal instruction is used, alongside much more active engagement of children working on their own investigations.
Results in schools that are using the Walker Learning Approach reflect the following:
It is important for teachers and leadership groups not to confuse the Walker Learning Approach with past programs such as "developmental play" from the 70's and 80's or other programs such as "open classrooms" or Steiner or Reggio approaches.
Whilst a major element of the Walker Learning Approach is student engagement through the children's investigations and interests, it still requires formal, explicit teaching in literacy and numeracy. As an education academic Kathy Walker stresses the importance of ensuring a balanced curriculum of authentic student interests and engagement alongside teacher scaffolding, direction and explicit teaching. The inclusion of in-depth planning for the development of children alongside learning intentions is a major part of this curriculum and makes it unique amongst all other curriculum designs in the primary years. It is consistent with state, territory and national curricula frameworks.
Unlike a range of approaches that come and go in education, often known as 'fads', the Walker Learning Approach is not a magic recipe or quick fix. It is not an add-on to whatever else is currently happening in the school or classroom. The Walker Learning Approach is based upon brain research, child development theory and the range of cultural and social influences from family and the wider environment. It requires careful consideration and implementation by Schools in order to ensure effective teaching and learning occurs.
Kathy and her associates are now working with schools from all sectors, public, independent, Catholic, Jewish and community based programs across Australia helping and supporting them to implement the Walker Learning Approach.