"Big Picture Learning" Informational Meeting

By Lisa Cooley | Dec 06, 2012

Find out more about starting a Big Picture Learning school-within-a-school in RSU 3. Monday, December 10, 6:00 pm at Morse Elementary School in Brooks.  (http://www.facebook.com/groups/bigpicturersu3/)

Big Picture Learning has started 60 schools in the U.S. and more abroad. Their flagship school The Met Center in Providence, RI was started 17 years ago.

The foundation of their work is to give students the time, support and resources to discover and pursue their passions, their interests; to set their own learning goals and figure out, with advisors and family, how to achieve them.

Through goal-setting, internships and projects, and exhibitions of their work, Big Picture students learn to truly take charge of their learning -- and their lives.

The three Big Picture foundational principals are:

1. That learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student;

2. That a student’s curriculum must be relevant to people and places that exist in the real world;

3. That a student’s abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of her or his work.

I would add #4 -- to develop a culture of trust and respect between all members of the school community. This trust and respect can only happen when students are encouraged to pursue the learning that is most meaningful to them.

We hear a lot about "voice and choice"....but the choice to develop and pursue one's learning passions is the most important of all.

For 17 years, Big Picture has remained true to its ideals: to be a place where students' passions and interests are the school's top priority, and students are encouraged pursue their learning in the direction they choose.

Nearly 100% of Big Picture students are accepted at college. They have exemplary attendance rates, and very, very few discipline/bullying problems. Why? Because Big Picture Learning kids are happy to be there!

RSU 3 spends around $19 million a year. How are we doing? Are we spending our money well? Are we producing the educated kids, prepared for success in college or career? Can we spend our money any better?

We know our RSU 3 kids. We know they are happiest when they can learn outside, with their hands and minds together. We know that so many of our kids are disconnected from their learning. We know they feel school has no relevance to their lives.  And they are right! Without engaging student passions, school has no meaning for them.

The proficiency-based system that RSU 3 is moving toward may "in the fullness of time" work to engage students in their learning more successfully than we are doing now. But how long will it take? How well will it work?

Should we put all our efforts and all our support behind a system that, for all the "voice and choice" it claims to give, still puts standards before students on the priority list?

Let's talk about it!

Join us on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/groups/bigpicturersu3/ (If this link doesn't work, copy/paste the address into your Location bar!)


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