Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The 'Big Picture' - an answer to real learning.

Sometimes you wonder if people share your point of view.

After writing my last 'blog' I came across a great book which asked the same questions but provided real alternatives for middle and secondary schools. I highly recommend 'The Big Picture', a book by Dennis Littky published by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 2004.

I also remember now, that Tom Peters, in his amazing book 'Re -Imagine' wrote that Dennis Littky was one of America's most brilliant educators. The chapter on education in Peters book is damming of current educational provision, saying it was 'designed for an industrial age' and that so far 'all notions of reform merely serves up more of the same.... more uniformity, more testing, more bureaucracy'. All in all, he says, a 'thinly disguised conspiracy to quash creativity.'

School principals need Tom's book so that they can see the future trends that will soon engulf schools.

Dennis's book is a real practical alternative. Drawn on his experience of being involved in innovative ideas in education that go back several decades, it is premised on the core belief that we must start with the experience and needs of each student. His philosophy requires small schools so that every student's learning can grow out of his or her unique needs, interests and passions. It requires families as active participants and values, above all, respectful relationships between all involved to ensure that no student fall between the cracks.

All I can say is that we have the ideas ( and the technology) so what's stopping us? I can find no research that says that big schools that work with streamed students in 40 minute blocks, with isolated subjects are the answer. The opposite is true. Dennis's book turns traditional educational ideas upside down but it will not come as a shock to those who have always held progressive views - more an affirmation.

So there is no doubt that there are people who share my point of view - or should I say 'our' point of view. The 'Big Picture' makes you really think about why there has been so little change in schooling the past decades and it challenges us all to keep doing our best to transform schools. It is a book to re -energize and inspire educators and to encourage us all to start a new conversation about what education and learning ought to be wherever we are

Thanks Dennis ( and Tom).

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