What is the Big Picture?
Big Picture Learning is an organization founded twenty years ago in the United States with the objective of changing the perception of learning in schools. The initial activity was the establishment of a school for youth at risk, which was the foundation of the International Network in the USA and in other countries. Ostensibly a puzzling decision, as usually alternative education is considered to be elitist. The combination of a social justice mindset together with the desire for a change in education earned the organization numerous awards for its work and turned it into an influential international educational movement.
‘Selfie’ with the Big Picture
We at the IDE were also impressed with the organization and with their inspiration we developed the Bat Yam model for personal education and the Century Plan in Ramat Hasharon (the coaching track to success). Two years ago we deepened the relationship with the organization and with its partners, Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky, and we became their representatives in Israel.
How does it work in practice?
It is an experience/expertise based model of learning. With the teachers’ help, the students identify their passions and skills, and together they construct a learning framework that is relevant to the real world. Two days a week throughout the year the students have a work/study day with a mentor in the community. They join the mentor’s professional world and study a field that fascinates them. The other days are devoted to studying that serves the “bigger picture”. Students develop a variety of skills and are introduced to options for future careers and adult life, and increase their chances of entering higher education.
How are the results in the field?
Graduates of the schools in the USA, mainly the day schools for vulnerable populations, and also the graduates who have entered higher education number 90%. Of these, 80% are the first member of their family to study in an academic institution. Parameters assessing work integration, happiness and satisfaction indicate a high level of satisfaction with the process.
How do we move up into such a successful model?
“Heavy guns” were recruited into the program staff – Merav Bareket , director of the PBL program in Holon, Michal Graf, an IDE counselor and former principal of the Democratic School in Hadera, Yuli Chromchenko, school counselor and member of the development team, and Yotam Tron, joint CEO of the Institute. Over the past two years the team has collaborated with Shlomi Cohen, Joint-Ashalim Youth Department Director, Michal Cohen, Ministry of Education Managing Director, and Dasi Beeri, from the Pedagogical Administration to adapt the model to compliance with Israeli regulations.
This year we launched a pilot in three schools, which will expand to 16 schools across the country within two years. We are aiming to work in all sectors – normative and those at risk – since the Ministry of Education wishes to challenge the learning paradigm ad connect to meaningful learning. The model can be adopted by any school, either as an overall model or for certain classes or certain grade levels.
The model offers another pedagogy that is based on the connection between what happens at school and the real world, in particular the community in the vicinity of the school. The Ministry of Education recognizes the model as having great potential to connect with the concept of meaningful teaching and learning.