Elliot Washor, Ed.D., has been involved in education innovation and school design for more than 40 years as a teacher, principal, administrator, designer, video producer, speaker and writer. Twenty-three years ago, Elliot co-founded Big Picture Learning and the Met Center in Providence, RI, recognized by President Barack Obama as one of the most innovative high schools in the country; one which should serve as an example to any educator focusing their efforts on student-centered, real-world learning. Given the success of the Big Picture design in the United States, Elliot has been recruited to repeat its successes across the world and, to date, has helped form over 100 Big Picture international schools in places like Australia, Barbados, Belize, Canada, India, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, New Zealand and The United Kingdom.
As detailed in Elliot’s latest book, Leaving to Learn co-written with Charles Mojkowski, he is most interested in how schools connect with communities to better understand how students (and adults) learn both inside and outside formal education settings.
Beyond school design, Elliot has played a key role in developing programs (such as Seed-to-Table programs and Makerspaces) —that are specifically shaped to entwine head, heart, and hand. Elliot has always held that the key to education—and really to humanity—is to have students and staff—and people in general—do things that matter to them and their communities. If this “do-think-do” mentality seems simple, it’s intended to. Elliot’s educational philosophy—one which is embedded at the core of Big Picture’s successful school design—is that practice should inform theory and that theory should inform practice, a cycle that can lead to profound change, and one that has earned Elliot wide acclaim and recognition.
Elliot was selected as one of the Twelve Most Daring Educators in the World by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. His dissertation on Innovative Pedagogy and New Facilities won the merit award from DesignShare, the international forum for innovative schools. Elliot has won a regional Emmy for his work as an Executive Producer on Big Picture Learning’s early Public Service Announcements.
Elliot lives in sunny San Diego with his wife and dogs.