When we were told that Dr. Dennis would be visiting us in the month of December, it was a moment that we all looked forward to. While his talk at the India Habitat Centre was for parents and various other Educationists, his visit to the Heritage School on the the 23rd of December, the last day of his stay in India was reserved for the teachers of the three branches of the Heritage schools in Delhi and Gurgaon. A workshop for teachers was organised in the M.P. Hall of the school in Gurgaon from twelve in the afternoon till four in the afternoon. I was able to walk in at about 3:30 p.m. and was able to learn a little about the concept of Big Pictures in Education.
An introduction on his website - http://www.bigpicture.org/dennis/ reads, ‘Dennis Littky is the co-founder and co-director of Big Picture Learning and the Met Center in Providence. He is nationally known for his extensive work in secondary education in urban, suburban, and rural settings, spanning over 40 years. As an educator, Dennis has a reputation for working up against the edge of convention and out of the box, turning tradition on its head and delivering concrete results. Presently, Dennis’s focus is to expand the Big Picture Learning design to include college-level accreditation through College Unbound, where students will have the opportunity to earn a B.A. and advanced certifications through a critically challenging, real-world based, and entrepreneurial course of study.’
The very idea of chunking and I guess, chucking out the irrelevant and uninteresting topics in a syllabus for every subject did seem to me to be rather outrageous and highly preposterous , but then the half hour that I spent with the group was enough to make me realise that in any case, the student who is not interested in a particular topic will not in any case be doing himself or the teacher any good just trying to get to terms with it. Dr. Dennis’ ideas on pedagogy definitely seemed to be extremely out of the box, and rather unconventional, going rather against tradition in the true sense. I guess it is high educators around the world realised that Pedagogy cannot be based on fixed patterns and norms, and that the Education in the twenty-first century will continue to be as dynamic as ever, ever evolving, adapting and never conforming!