Learning the right way

Dr. Dennis Littky, an expert on education system spoke on its various aspects including students and the learning process

Published - January 07, 2015 08:16 pm IST

Dennis Littky

Dennis Littky

Taking an initiative to reform the education system globally, Dr. Dennis Littky, co-founder and co-director of The Met School, Big Picture Learning, was in the Capital to talk about the importance of experiential learning. Holding a double Ph.D. in psychology and education from the University of Michigan, Dr. Littky is known for his work in secondary school education in urban, suburban and rural settings, spanning over 40 years. Acclaimed by President Obama as an exemplar for real and hands-on learning in the U.S., Littky’s work has been an inspiration to the Emmy Award nominated NBC movie A Town Torn Apart . Big Picture Learning was immensely supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and given 25 million dollars from 2000-2010 to expand and establish The Met School nationally and internationally. Currently with a network of 40 schools in the U.S., 25 in Australia and 13 in the Netherlands, Littky is looking at further expanding the realm of application-based education.

At a talk organised by The Heritage School, Littky shared with the audience at New Delhi’s India Habitat Centre his experiences in the field that are considered to have radically altered traditional views. Littky believes his approach has brought him concrete results because every student is treated individually and kept in the spotlight of his/her learning process. There is a healthy ecosystem built between the advisor, who helps the students individually to discover their interests and motivations, the mentor, a lawyer, engineer, small business owner, who guides the students’ internships, the parent, a major resource to the Big Picture Learning community, and the fellow students who interact to reinforce each other’s passion for real work. “It is imperative that we connect to the students and know them before we decide to impart knowledge. It is not about the number of projects we are doing. It is about making sure that the students are deep thinkers. The teachers we have are generalists. If we need specialists, we have them too. We have one teacher responsible for each student in our schools. I meet them every morning and I get to know the parents through constant interactions. I have all day, all week to discuss each student’s programme and know more about their interests. We have different mechanisms and tests to discover their interests and then we provide them with the respective internships, following which they work on their projects. Everybody is actively involved in shaping up these students to pursue their interests seriously,” said Littky.

Looking at the Indian front, Manit Jain, Director, The Heritage School, said he believes in developing individuals and not a mass of knowledge- crammed people.

With a course in philosophy, The Heritage School aims at enabling students to become their genuine selves. Jain said his vision to make the classrooms more participative and interactive has shown encouraging results and relieved the initially sceptical parents of their fears of taking the little used route. With a motive to help students achieve what they truly deserve, such visionaries will, hopefully, make the much needed impact, globally.

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