What do a published poet, two astrophysicists, and a tennis player have in common? They each describe unique attributes of some of the students attending Big Bang 2016
This year, we intentionally reframed our annual conference--Big Bang
--as "the international conference on student-centered learning." Part of this reframing was a signal that the movement to help students pursue learning through the own passions had gone global
. But another, arguably more significant, reframing was a humble acknowledgement that while Big Picture Learning has its own views on what exactly "student-centered learning" is, there are other organizations doing powerful work in this space. If we are to effectively bring this issue to its rightful place at the center of our national discourse on education, we needed a space to raise our voices up together. Further, we knew that: Any authentic conversation about student-centered learning must involve students themselves.
With that in mind, we undertook a purposeful effort to find a way to involve students in Big Bang. Sure, we've had students attend Big Bang in the past, but we wanted to move away from a conference in which students were at the margins and move toward a conference where students were at the center. Students themselves seemed to agree
What started out as an idea--a notion--turned into an experiment, one which we truthfully weren't sure would succeed in its first year. We solicited and received video submissions from students all over the country, highlighting their personal stories and their reasons for wanting to participate in Big Bang. Some students have a passion for education. Others are eager to network with students who go to schools similar to theirs. Many have never traveled by plane, nor even out of their home state before. Mostly, these students are excited to have a voice in a conversation directed toward the future of their education. But, frankly, many if not most of these students simply can't afford to travel across the country for four days of deep learning and professional development.
So, you can imagine how grateful we are to the sponsors who have come forward in support of this idea. Thanks to them, over 45 students from across the country--both from within and outside the Big Picture Learning network--will be attending Big Bang at no personal cost! Among these students are four musicians, a published poet, a fencer, two community organizers, seven teen mothers, two astrophysicists, four entrepreneurs and three web designers. We have no doubt that having these students at Big Bang will enhance everyone's experience, and keep us all honest and focused on the important work of reimagining education.
These students share their gratitude to our sponsors, and also share what it is that excites them about attending Big Bang, in the messages below. We share these thoughts, now, with you! As more videos come in, we will continue adding them to this page. Please continue checking back.