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Maret Staron

Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 9 years, 6 months ago


Life-based learning model – a model for strength -based approaches to capability development and implications for personal development planning

Maret Staron


Podcast at end of abstract






A new model for capability development called life-based learning has been developed through a research project investigating professional development for the knowledge era undertaken in Australia (Staron et al 2006).  It is based on the proposition that learning for work is not restricted to learning at work and all learning is interrelated, so it is not easy to separate learning at work from the other types of learning adults do. Learning is a multi-dimensional experience and individuals have knowledge, skills and attributes that may not always be visible or recognised by an organisation, but it makes a significant contribution to organisational achievements and relationships. Life based learning acknowledges the importance of personal values and foundation truths and their profound effect on work and culture. The research identified the need to adopt a strength based (rather than a deficit based) orientation to capability development in a life-based learning context: a proposition that might be transferred to and used to support PDP practices in UK Higher Education.


The life-based learning proposition has many overlaps with the lifewide learning concept developed at the University of Surrey. It holds the possibility of engaging individuals more systematically and more deeply with the development of their own capability and agency that is necessary for creating and sustaining a good quality of life (Alkire 2008) and a sense of personal and social well-being in a world of continuous, rapid and sometimes disruptive change. Here we are dealing with concepts of capability that impact on personal well-being and development developed by the Nobel Prize winning Economist Amartya Sen. 'The central feature of well-being is the ability to achieve valuable functionings' (Sen 1985: 200). Functionings are beings and doings that people value and have reason to value. They include simple achievements like being safe and physically comfortable and complex achievements like leading and managing a large organisation or performing in a challenging situation. A key feature of the strength-based orientation to capability development is the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own development, to evaluate needs, identify and build upon strengths. 

The presentation will outline the life-based learning model and try to relate the strength-based approach to capability development to the development of capability for personal development planning and self-regulation (Jackson, 2010).



Alkire, S. (2008) The Capability Approach to the Quality of Life. Available on-line at:  http://www.stiglitz-senfitoussi.fr/documents/capability_approach.pdf

Jackson, N. J. (2010) Learning to be a Self-Regulating Professional: the role of Personal Development Planning. In N. Jackson (ed) Learning to be Professional through a Higher Education, Available on-line at: http://learningtobeprofessional.pbworks.com/w/page/32872854/Learning%20to%20be%20a%20self-regulating%20professional

Sen, A. (1992) Inequality Re-examined (New York, Cambridge, MA: Russell Sage Foundation. Harvard University Press

Staron, M., Jasinski, M and Weatherley, R. (2006) Life-based Learning: A strength-based approach for capability development in vocational and technical education. Australian Government Department for Education Science and Training and TAFE NSW Available on-line at: HYPERLINK "http://learningtobeprofessional.pbworks.com/w/page/32893040/Life-based-learning" http://learningtobeprofessional.pbworks.com/w/page/32893040/Life-based-learning










Maret Staron Over 25 years ago as a teacher, Maret went on her first in-house training program to re-fresh her skills. She was so enthused by the practicality, support and enthusiasm of the trainers that then and there changed her career to staff development. Since then she has managed human resources, teacher education and more recently managed the TAFE NSW International Centre for Vocational Education and Training  (VET) Teaching and Learning, and was director of TAFE NSW Workforce Development.  


Currently, Maret is principal of a Sydney based consultancy ‘Mindful Creations’. Her passion continues to be learning and development. She wonders about how we retain (or don’t retain) our passion for learning, growth and change, and how we can acknowledge and value the interrelationship of head, heart and hope in organisations. Maret has examined these issues in her thesis for her Master of Science (Hons), from the University of Western Sydney, as well as through the many projects she has led in the Australian VET sector.


Maret is recognised for her skills in facilitation. She understands the demands of business, having managed multi-million dollar budgets and led many work groups through constant and disruptive change. She is used to working in large organisations - TAFE NSW has over 15,000 employees, 500,000 annual student enrolments and more than 130 metropolitan and regional campuses. Maret has worked in partnership with universities and private training providers and has managed national and state projects in e-learning, leadership development and workforce capability development. As project manager of the national research project ‘Designing Professional Development for the Knowledge Era’ (2006), Maret led the research team that developed the concept of life-based learning - a strength based approach to capability development.


Maret has to admit that despite a working life focusing on learning and development, she believes that her deepest convictions about learning and development have formed through her personal life experiences. Maret has been working with SCEPTrE to help connect the work she has been doing on life-based learning with the Centre's work on lifewide learning.






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