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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's "Are you with me now?" 5.17.21

“Take it to the bridge” – James Brown

Oliver Hazzard Perry Last week, I took a trip to Newport, RI for a meeting with Jonathan Kabak, CEO of the Oliver Hazard Perry. We had the meeting on board this Tall Ship. Below is a photo of the engine room. As usual for ships like this, it was clean as a whistle. I have to admit I was a bit awe-struck by the experience.

The reason for the meeting was to form a partnership that bridges their program for exploring work in the maritime field with Harbor Freight Fellows leading to full-time work and post-secondary options. As we branch out and have more influence around both HFFI programs and assessments, these types of partnerships are key.

Also, while waiting to get on board the ship, I Zoomed with the National Flooring Apprenticeship Program about HFFI being the bridge between high school certifications and their apprenticeship programs through continuing relationships with mentors. The data is very clear that without some sort of bridge to real-world internships starting in high school with continuous follow through to post-secondary programs many students believe they can’t get there from here. It seems like such an easy fix yet, the transition between high school and post-secondary remains.


On Tuesday, I had a face-to-face meeting at the Greater Lawrence Technical School with Andrew, John Lavoie, the Superintendent, and Panagiota Athinelis, Director of their STEAM program. In part, it was a similar conversation to the previous ones above. The problem of the bridge between high school and postsecondary was acknowledged but with a good twist. We finally found a state with a policy and a superintendent with a vision who wants a high school to have grades 13 and 14 and fund them.

This is a big deal because relationships can continue both on the school side with advisories and on the work side with industry and mentors. This is a breakthrough we have been looking for decades to materialize. We agreed to write up a proposal to advise on the development of grades 13 and 14 and coach the STEAM program. There is a possibility of developing Ophthalmic and Optometric certifications of Project InSight that would give a very clear pathway having the kinds of supports we want for students attached with pay at their internships. There’s a lot to be worked out here but it is promising. All this started through a relationship that Casey Lamb has with Panagiota. Word of mouth is powerful. Thanks Casey. Both the relationship and the practical sides of the shift to grades 9-14 involve a change in assessment through new measures. This is why we ask questions about interest, practice and relationships. The measures we are getting at are mostly tacit.

As Michael Polanyi states, “We can know more than we can tell.”

Tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in action and in an individual’s commitment to a specific context—a craft or profession, a technology or product market, or the activities of a workgroup or team.” “Tacit knowledge is hypothesized to play an important (although not sole) role in practical intelligence. A review of the research on practical intelligence finds that it is not correlated with academic intelligence within the typical range of abilities for which prediction is sought, is not correlated with measures of personality or of styles either, but predicts job performance and even adjustment to a school environment as well as or better than does a conventional test of abilities.” And, herein lies the key to a big shift in education in schools.


This is a photo from BPL’s Lafayette High School trip to the buffalo herd on Onondaga Land. Many of our students at BP Lafayette are members of the Onondaga Nation. I can’t express enough how much I learn every week from reading the TGIF’s sent to me by some of our schools. I always wished there would be more writing from our schools on a weekly basis. Reading these early on Saturday and Sunday morning is one of my favorite ways to start the new week.


People are talking…. More good news. BP Australia is getting global recognition for the work on the International Big Picture Learning Credential. At a recent Global Education Leaders Partnership (GELP) meeting, a number of people citing the most promising practices in transforming assessment around the world called out the IBPLC. We are having follow-up on meetings with Susan Patrick and Eliot Levine from Aurora.


Mark Bittman’s new book, Animal, Vegetable, Junk is my read this weekend. Bittman takes on the food industry and the USDA by getting into the history of how we got to where we are in agriculture and food industries through social justice, sustainability and climate change lenses.

At BPLiving, our students and schools are preparing for Big Bang and the launch of our second year where there will be a Call to Action. This week, our Zooms ranged from India to Australia. If you go on the website you will see a vast array of materials developed by students for students and advisories. It has been quite an incredible year. Danique, Dr. Marsha-Gail, Paul Reynolds, and I met with Jared Joiner from the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation. We are in discussions about a contract for BPLiving that connects to their work on teacher/student relationships.


On May 20th, after the private screening of the first documentary in the Meaning in Madness Series, Mackenzie, we will be announcing the launch of B-Unbound. The screening is hosted by Spoken Word Artist and Influencer Prince EA and includes panel discussions with Javier, me, San Diego Met student, Izzy, and Pam Roy. Next week I meet with Pam, David Abel, and Art Bilger about B-Unbound and more. The hope is for Art to help support our programs through his media outlet – Working Nation. Finally, I had a great time reviewing with Peter McWalters the history of BPL, The Met, and landing at how we started MetWest, one of our first schools away from the mothership. It is so funny how much you remember when someone asks you to recall the past. It was quite a journey. Kelly Young asked us to talk to her about this history that she will present as a case study to policymakers in Florida. Be well!

-- Elliot Washor Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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