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Big Picture Learning was established in 1995 with the sole mission of putting students directly at the center of their own learning. It was around this time that the state of Rhode Island was re-examining its education system. BPL co-founders Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor merged their 30 years of experience as teachers and principals and their distinct reputations to propose a design - a bold new school dedicated to educating one student at a time. Big Picture's very first school - The Met - was born. 


In the schools that Big Picture Learning envisioned, students would be at the center of their own learning. They would spend considerable time in the community under the tutelage of mentors and would not be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests. Instead, students would be assessed on exhibitions of learning and demonstrations of achievement. The core distinguishers that made up a Big Picture Learning network school are still those which shape the schools that continue to join our network today.

one student at a time

bpl's 10 distinguishers

The entire Big Picture Learning experience is personalized to each student's interests, talents and needs. Personalization expands beyond mere academic work and involves looking at each student holistically.

10 Distinguishers

With groundbreaking success came national attention. President Obama lauded the Met and schools like it as engaging and worth replicating. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declared Big Picture Learning its favorite high schools in America and provided financial support to replicate its design nationwide. Clearly Big Picture worked.

Today, Big Picture Learning network schools can be found in over 110 schools in 27 states, and hundreds more around the world in countries like Australia, the Netherlands, Belize, Italy, India, Canada and more. 

But as education has continued to evolve, so has Big Picture Learning. With three decades of experience as one of the most groundbreaking institutions in equitable, progressive education, Big Picture Learning has become so much more than a network of schools

We're the home of a number of adult and youth fellowships, rethinking leadership and place-based learning. We're the inventors of ImBlaze, a tech-platform designed to ease the process of finding internships and open it up to a virtual environment. We are teachers and learners who build upon the premise - facilitated through Big Picture Living - that the path toward a healthy mind travels through a healthy body.  And we're activists who believe that the best practices can and always should be available to all learners

We stand for unbridled, fearless curiosity. We foster learning spaces which create the wake in which students can freely, and with courage, pursue their passions and interests.  

From these spaces have emerged teachers, policy-makers, fashion designers, astrophysicists, filmmakers, future world leaders and more. From these spaces have emerged second families, made up of peers of diverse genders, races, religions, economic classes and sexual orientations.

We exist in an era in which populations of peoples and students who have rarely enjoyed equitable opportunities find themselves marginalized and demeaned. This adverse change in our nation's climate threatens the sanctity of the spaces in which students who desire honesty, respect and authenticity seek refuge.

To all who possess an infallible curiosity for learning and truth, we offer this: We stand with you to lend strength in times of weakness. Courage in times of fear. Unity in times of division. Big Picture Learning in times of small-minded thinking.

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