The walled garden of pedagogy : leveraging protection and risk in education

Robertson, Nicola (2023) The walled garden of pedagogy : leveraging protection and risk in education. International Journal of Modern Educational Studies, 7 (1). pp. 61-74. ISSN 2618-6209 (

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This conceptual paper introduces the idea of the walled garden of pedagogy. I will come to delineate it as a desirable and necessary feature of education given that it offers a protective space for pedagogical practice and rehearsal. This paper critiques a previous conceptualisation of a walled garden introduced by unschooling advocate John Holt (in relation to the raising of children), in which such a metaphorical construction is described as a prison. The limitations of Holt’s conceptualisation are used to then build upon the concepts of pedagogical reduction and Yves Chevallard’s notion of “la transposition didactique” to argue that educators in practice inevitably build walled gardens from pedagogical foundations. It is argued, and thus recommended, that it is the gradual introduction of risk that separates the pedagogical walled garden from the conceptualisation of the childhood prison. It is imperative that educators understand their responsibility for leveraging the inevitable protective element and the necessary risk required in education.


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