Published : Thursday, July 19, 2018 | 1:16 PM
Multi-age learning is an integral part of the Walden approach to education. Many of its learning environments are multi-age. These configurations are formed each year by deliberately placing students together with differences in ages and abilities in order to facilitate the overall development of each child within a family-like community of learners. Consistent with a progressive philosophy of education, the center of gravity in the classroom is the children and their learning, not the teacher and the text.
The result of the thoughtful placement of students in a multi-age experience is natural diversity, and… “At Walden we believe an informed approach to culture and diversity takes practice.” Inclusivity doesn’t naturally appear, and providing students and faculty with the opportunities and skills daily to teach and work with different ages, developmental stages, family structures, and learning styles in the context of a multi-age classroom develops cultural humility and allows children to become comfortable with differences.
The multi-age classroom also includes an emphasis on cooperative learning, flexible grouping, and integrated, thematic units of study. Students are encouraged to be independent, yet also understand that their strengths are to be shared with others and other students’ strengths will bolster their own learning. As a result of this intentional practice, students at Walden value their learning, the importance of academic diligence and tenacity, and strive to do their best as a scholar and friend in a classroom community.
Students may stay with the same teacher for more than one year, as new, younger students join the class. The teacher Facilitates student learning according to developmental stages rather than chronological ages. Students are encouraged to take more initiative and responsibility in their learning and to became self-advocates.
Although not every child may be placed in a multi-age classroom, Walden intentionally offers experiences that carry the benefits of multi-age practices. Our sixth graders partner with a younger classroom each year to serve as mentors. Every classroom also has a “buddy class” with whom they interact throughout the year. These buddy classes are deliberately set up to combine younger and older children, and buddies meet regularly for reading, writing, field trips, art projects, family-style meals, and service learning projects.
Walden School, 74 S. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 792-6166 or visit www.waldenschool.net.