The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business

The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business

The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business

The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business

Synopsis

What is the purpose of education? What kind of people do we want our children to grow up to be? How can we design schools so that students will acquire the skills they'll need to live fulfilled and productive lives? These are just a few of the questions that renowned educator Dennis Littky explores in The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business. The schools Littky has created and led over the past 35 years are models for reformers everywhere: small, public schools where the curriculum is rich and meaningful, expectations are high, student progress is measured against real-world standards, and families and communities are actively engaged in the educational process. This book is for both big ?E? and small ?e? educators:?For principals and district administrators who want to change the way schools are run.'For teachers who want students to learn passionately.'For college admissions officers who want diverse applicants with real-world learning experiences.'For business leaders who want a motivated and talented workforce.'For parents who want their children to be prepared for college and for life.'For students who want to take control over their learning... and want a school that is interesting, safe, respectful, and fun.'For anyone who cares about kids. Here, you'll find a moving account of just what is possible in education, with many of the examples drawn from the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (?The Met?) in Providence, Rhode Island'a diverse public high school with the highest rates of attendance and college acceptance in the state and a dropout rate of less than five percent. The Big Picture is a book to reenergize educators, inspire teachers in training, and start a new conversation about kids and schools, what we want for both, and how to make it happen.

Excerpt

For a century or more, reformers have been fiddling with how to improve on a paradigm of schooling derived from another age and intended for a very different purpose. Thousands of years of history suggest that the schoolhouse as we know it is an absurd way to rear our young; it's contrary to everything we know about what it is to be a human being. For example, we know that doing and talking are what most successful people are very good at—that's where they truly show their stuff. We know that reading and writing are important, but also that these are things that only a rather small and specialized group of people is primarily good at doing. And yet we persist in a form of schooling that measures our children's “achievement” largely in the latter terms, not the former … and sometimes through written tests alone.

Dennis Littky has been gradually taking on the unmentionable. Suppose we just turned the whole thing upside down. Suppose we went back to the oldest and most traditional idea of education: Let kids learn in settings where adults are doing interesting work. Let novices learn from masters. Then create a part-time community for kids where they can use their expanding knowledge of the real world as the foundation for new growth—an environment where they can learn about being a member of a peer group, where they can reflect on what they are doing at their work sites, and where they can hone skills and explore concepts that, they are coming to realize, will be critical to their futures.

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