Big History in India
Big History in India
Five new partner schools will be the first to pilot the Big History Project in India, the innovative educational initiative co-founded by Macquarie University's Professor David Christian and Bill Gates.
Macquarie University's Vice-Chancellor Professor S Bruce Dowton formalised the partnership agreements with the Dhirubhai Ambani International School and the Akanksha Schools, two of the five new schools, on a recent education mission to India.
The Vice Chancellor was accompanied by the then Education Minister, the Honourable Christopher Pyne MP. The Australian delegation to India led by the Minister included nearly forty high-level representatives from government, industry and education institutions.
The school relationships began in January 2015 when Andrew McKenna, Executive Director of the Big History Institute, met with the schools during his visit to India for Australian Business Week in India. The engagement of the Big History Institute with India is part of a strengthening relationship that Macquarie University is building with the world's largest democracy.
"It was a tremendous opportunity to meet with schools and principals at an important time for India," McKenna says. "India has a significant focus on education to reach the India@75 goals and this is happening within the context of an invigorated Australia-India relationship following the momentum created by the new Modi Government."
The Big History Institute's new partners will bring Big History Project to high school students and spark the imagination of young people using an online learning platform that challenges them to investigate the history of the universe.
"India has over 200 million school students. We are excited by the start of this pilot and the opportunity to introduce Big History to students across India," McKenna says.
In 2015, the number of schools teaching Big History increased to over 1000 globally. Student and teacher response has been extremely positive across the United States and Australia.
"Students enjoyed the course so much they would talk about it at home for hours on end," says a passionate Big History teacher. "It stimulated academic discussion between parents and students at home. It also sparked critical thinking and the exploration of knowledge in the classroom."
Education Leader at the Big History Institute, Tracy Sullivan, recently conducted a Professional Development Day in Mumbai for teachers and principals taking part in the current pilot and those interested in taking part in the expanded pilot next year.
"The enthusiasm of Indian teachers to provide meaningful, exciting and innovative learning experiences for their students has been phenomenal," Sullivan says.
"Principals and teachers have recognised the power of Big History to develop students' critical thinking skills to address complex problems across disciplines. Identifying how studying Big History meets the need for their students to have a strong grasp of the skills enabling them to be successful thinkers, empowered in the workplace and effective global citizens."