The Progressive Education Tradition


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The Progressive Education Tradition

  2. 2. BACKGROUND <ul><li>“ Progressive” at the turn of the previous century meant populist, reformist, left-leaning; impulses and accomplishments included abolitionism, woman suffrage, trust-busting, and even “environmentalism” </li></ul><ul><li>These in turn grew out of the tradition of Locke and Rousseau—that human society, properly structured (less is more, for Rousseau) can be brought to a state of moral perfection and universal happiness </li></ul><ul><li>Progressive education was explicitly political in its origins—education to support these principles </li></ul>
  3. 3. FROM ED SCHOOL TO KIDS <ul><li>Educators educating teachers: Francis W. Parker (  U. Chicago); John Dewey (U. Chicago  Columbia); William H. Kilpatrick (Columbia; the project guy) </li></ul><ul><li>Lab and prototype schools: F.W. Parker (Chicago); City & Country School (NY); Horace Mann School (NY); Winnetka (IL) public schools </li></ul><ul><li>Independent early adopters: Park (NY)—1912; Park (MD)—inc. 1912; Shady Hill—1915; Dalton (NY)—1919; BCDS—inc. 1920; The School in Rose Valley (PA)—1929 </li></ul><ul><li>Maria Montessori (1870–1952)—child-centered and intentional in every respect; first U.S. school—1912 </li></ul>
  4. 4. SERIOUS SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS <ul><li>Ethical Culture schools (NY)—1890s; high school since 1904 (Felix Adler was ahead of Dewey on social aspects of education) </li></ul><ul><li>Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education (AL)—1907 </li></ul><ul><li>The Lincoln School (NY)—1917, by the Rockefeller Foundation/Teachers College; political and pedagogical agendas </li></ul><ul><li>Arthurdale (WV) community schools—New Deal community building </li></ul>
  5. 5. PROGRESSIVE INNOVATIONS FROM “BACK IN THE DAY” <ul><li>School-provided lunch </li></ul><ul><li>Advisors </li></ul><ul><li>Field trips (okay, also from H. D. Thoreau) </li></ul><ul><li>Physical education as a class and a discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Project-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>The syllabus (E. R. Smith on geometry) </li></ul><ul><li>School-based teacher training programs </li></ul><ul><li>Developmental psychology as aspect of teacher training </li></ul><ul><li>Folklore and folk traditions as academic study </li></ul>
  6. 6. PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION, 1930 (BCDS) <ul><li>Students are free to develop naturally </li></ul><ul><li>Interest is the key to motivation </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher is a guide, not a taskmaster </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific study is made of student development and ability; psychometric testing as a key tool </li></ul><ul><li>Attention paid to all factors in a student’s physical development: light, air, nutrition, activity </li></ul><ul><li>Cooperation between school and family is key </li></ul><ul><li>“ The progressive school a leader in educational movements”—ideas and new approaches are valued </li></ul>
  7. 7. EIGHT-YEAR STUDY (1933–41) <ul><li>QUESTION: Does “Progressive Education” work? </li></ul><ul><li>Funded by the Carnegie Corporation; officially known as Commission of the Progressive Education Association on School and College Relations </li></ul><ul><li>Eight years; thirty schools; control group included </li></ul><ul><li>Careful investigation of each school </li></ul><ul><li>Careful tracking of student progress in secondary schools and in college study </li></ul><ul><li>Report published in 1942; WW II in progress; no one much interested in progressive education </li></ul>
  8. 8. THE FINDINGS OF THE STUDY <ul><li>Progressively educated students the equal of traditionally educated students in college </li></ul><ul><li>School recommendations as accurate a predictor of college success as standardized tests </li></ul><ul><li>“ Grades” less important than clear description of skills and accomplishments </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, progressive methods are as effective as traditional methods in preparing students for college work (and perhaps better, it was implied, at preparing students to make the life decisions associated with the college experience) </li></ul>
  9. 9. THE EISENHOWER YEARS <ul><li>“ Classical” progressive education falters and fades amid Cold War anxieties; the fascination of Skinner’s Walden II and behaviorism </li></ul><ul><li>Many progressive schools drift into the mainstream; Our Miss Brooks is good enough for now </li></ul><ul><li>“ Sputnik Panic” and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement refocus attention on schools as 1960s begin; progressive ideas of emphasis on the child and on curriculum design resurface and head off in many directions </li></ul>
  10. 10. PROGRESSIVE to PERMISSIVE, 1960s–1980s: Things Critics Love to Hate <ul><li>A. S. Neill’s Summerhill (published 1960) </li></ul><ul><li>The New Math—concepts over “times tables” </li></ul><ul><li>Open classrooms (from England) </li></ul><ul><li>Free schools—politics trump pedagogy </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative schools—acknowledging the legitimacy of resistance to “traditional” schooling and authority </li></ul><ul><li>“ Rules” seemingly optional—attendance, homework </li></ul><ul><li>The “self-esteem movement” </li></ul><ul><li>An endless sequence of fads and change </li></ul>
  11. 11. BUT YET… <ul><li>The charter school movement—American legislators “letting a hundred flowers bloom” </li></ul><ul><li>Central Park East (NY), Urban Academy (NY) and the “Small Schools” movement </li></ul><ul><li>Parent- or educator-founded small schools with child-centered mission, social-justice orientation, and strong community purpose </li></ul><ul><li>The Coalition of Essential Schools —a set of ideals growing out of the Horace books by Theodore Sizer </li></ul>
  12. 12. REMEMBER… <ul><li>Progressive education came into being to change the world—to effect the moral and social transformation of students (and thus society) in order to move the human condition forward towards a state of perfection </li></ul><ul><li>This is not a modest goal, nor is it easily set aside </li></ul>
  13. 13. A New Progressivism for the 21st Century Some propositions
  14. 14. THE RECENT CRITIQUE <ul><li>Progressive education is often misunderstood to be about endless experimentation, cultural relativism, and an absence of standards </li></ul><ul><li>John Dewey has become to social conservatives writing on education what Bill Clinton was to the religious right </li></ul><ul><li>Some names: Arthur Bestor; E.D. Hirsch, Jr.; Diane Ravitch; Chester Finn; Abigail Thernstrom </li></ul>
  15. 15. THE RESPONSE <ul><li>Progressive education in this century is not a slavish attempt to follow the letter of Dewey’s “law” (if he had written one), nor is it a remnant of the free and alternative schools of the later 1900s </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary progressive education responds to new understanding about cognition and to new ideas about the design and delivery of challenging learning experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary progressive education continues to have an important social role in a society struggling towards equity </li></ul>
  16. 16. SUCCESSORS OF DEWEY et al. <ul><li>Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, Mel Levine—the nature of intelligence, learning “styles” </li></ul><ul><li>Theodore & Nancy Faust Sizer, Deborah Meier—school in society, school structure </li></ul><ul><li>Grant Wiggins, Rick Stiggins, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, David Perkins—learning, curriculum, and assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Alan November, Jason Ohler—technology </li></ul><ul><li>James Banks, Linda Chavez, Peggy McIntosh, Lisa Delpit, Carol Gilligan, Jaime Wurzel—equity issues around gender and race; multicultural education </li></ul><ul><li>Project Zero, the regional education laboratories, the Coalition of Essential Schools—”think tanks” of a new progressivism </li></ul>
  17. 17. Aspects of the New Progressivism: Institutional Values
  18. 18. VALUES <ul><li>All children are worthy as individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Human institutions and human beings can always be made more righteous, more just; progressivism is an agent of change </li></ul><ul><li>Deeply humanistic, nurturing values are fundamental to any progressive institution or impulse </li></ul><ul><li>Progressive educational values need not be spiritual values, but they are essentially and undeniably values of the spirit </li></ul>
  19. 19. STANDARDS <ul><li>The standards are forward-thinking and must support preparation for challenging work in college and beyond—changing the world </li></ul><ul><li>Progressive standards must be rigorous, and must be based on goals that are authentic and worthy </li></ul><ul><li>Standards are about intention, not about work for work’s sake; “sweat equity” is a valid progressive concept, but effort unrelated to actual learning is not </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability is a progressive value </li></ul>
  20. 20. CULTURALLY INCLUSIVE <ul><li>Explicit and positive acknowledgement of cultures and ways of being embedded in curriculum and programs </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond tolerance; rejects content and assessment that perpetuate oppression and cultural evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Insists upon core values of respect, kindness, non-violence, and hard work that transcend cultural differences and bind the members of an intentional community </li></ul><ul><li>Schools, as small utopias, can model the future of the planet </li></ul>
  21. 21. ENGAGING <ul><li>Learning should engage students in worthy work </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging learning touches and inspires curiosity, but not every task need engage every student </li></ul><ul><li>Reveals to students the causal relationship between intellectual effort and intellectual effect—that thought and struggle matter and bring rewards </li></ul><ul><li>The successful and happy individual has learned to engage positively in life’s challenges and tasks; the school must help students learn this </li></ul>
  22. 22. THE THIRD CULTURE <ul><li>Beyond the home and peer cultures of village, suburb, or city, a Third Culture of school and work </li></ul><ul><li>Third Culture invites optimism, creative problem-solving, generous collaboration, and language and technique that evidence seriousness of purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Effective education must teach, nourish, and reward Third Culture values, skills, and habits of mind </li></ul><ul><li>Third Culture can be subversive: It’s about learning how to act within a certain cultural context to further the work of perfecting society </li></ul>
  23. 23. Aspects of the New Progressivism: Curriculum
  24. 24. “INTERDISCIPLINARY” <ul><li>Invites students to see connections among the skills and content of different disciplines </li></ul><ul><li>Demands sophisticated analytical thinking and choices as to approach and emphasis </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledges and preserves the essential modes, methods, and content of distinct academic disciplines; “inter-” does not mean “non-” </li></ul>
  25. 25. PROJECT-BASED <ul><li>Effective project-based learning is by definition skill-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>Effective project-based curriculum contains opportunities for explicit skills instruction and rehearsal </li></ul><ul><li>While the product is important, the process is more important; good project design requires careful construction and evaluation of process </li></ul><ul><li>A project’s success is measured by the learning it engenders, not by its coolness </li></ul>
  26. 26. EXPERIENTIAL <ul><li>Prior experience provides the context for new learning </li></ul><ul><li>Experience complements and supports other kinds of learning—from texts, from teachers </li></ul><ul><li>The experience of the senses and emotions is cognitively powerful—it tends to stick in the brain </li></ul><ul><li>But: “Even sitting at a desk is an experience”—Ted Sizer </li></ul>
  27. 27. ASSESSMENT-DRIVEN <ul><li>Assessment should reflect the goals of the teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Effective assessment tasks are varied in nature, intensity, and scale — and timely in administration </li></ul><ul><li>Effective assessment matches the nature of the learning be measured </li></ul><ul><li>The nature of assessment tasks should not run ahead of the acquisition of fundamental skills needed for true mastery </li></ul>
  28. 28. FEEDBACK <ul><li>The purpose of evaluation is to give feedback that improves future performance </li></ul><ul><li>Effective feedback is clear, precise, timely, and based on known criteria and standards </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluative feedback should contain explicit suggestions for the improvement of performance and should focus on areas over which the student has control </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback on effort (i.e., observed performance, including non-performance) is of great value </li></ul>
  29. 29. Aspects of the New Progressivism: Pedagogy
  30. 30. THE TEACHER-OBSERVER <ul><li>The task of the teacher is carefully to observe and note the work and behavior of students </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher-observer’s concern is the character growth and academic success of students </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher-observer sees, notes, and analyzes student performance against the goals of the curriculum and the mission and values of the community </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher-observer eschews labels and embraces analysis and action </li></ul>
  31. 31. COLLABORATION <ul><li>Collaboration is more than just conversation or cooperation </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative learning begins with the intent and attention of the teacher-observer </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative learning occurs best in a collaborative classroom culture </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative classroom culture develops based on the teacher’s understanding of each student’s needs, strengths, and affinities and of how to design effective collaborative tasks </li></ul>
  32. 32. LEARNING STYLES <ul><li>Learning styles reflect the individual’s peculiar cognitive and neurochemical nature as well as behaviors born of experience </li></ul><ul><li>Learning styles are “strengths” or “weaknesses” or even “disabilities” in context only </li></ul><ul><li>Learning styles are the chief subject of the teacher-observer </li></ul><ul><li>Students understand their own learning styles and learn to accommodate their strengths and preferences to rigorous educational demands </li></ul>
  33. 33. METACOGNITION <ul><li>To know how one learns is to have power in one’s own learning </li></ul><ul><li>Each student’s learning can become visible to the careful teacher-observer </li></ul><ul><li>But to have learning become visible to the student is to open the doorway to knowledge and to intellectual maturity </li></ul>
  34. 34. Aspects of the New Progressivism: Some Implications
  35. 35. FOR CURRICULUM: <ul><li>Students must be challenged by sophisticated ideas and rigorous work; there cannot be any holding back from the intellectual, social, and ethical demands of the Third Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers must be purposeful in their preparation, cunning in their methods, and steadfast in maintaining the values and expectations of the Third Culture </li></ul>
  36. 36. FOR PEDAGOGY: <ul><li>Kids have to be kids, but in a progressive environment they have to be taught how to be serious—about their work, about the school environment, about themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers must have the opportunity to expand and practice their skills as observers and mentors and in clarifying and maintaining Third Culture values </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers must have opportunities to expand their capacities in classroom practice </li></ul>
  37. 37. FOR INSTITUTIONAL VALUES <ul><li>Progressive schools must be unafraid to become bastions of the Third Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Schools must engage in continuous investigation and research into the ways children learn and into the best practices in the design of curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>In the realms of work, play, and care, schools must be serious and intentional at all times and in all areas </li></ul>
  38. 38. FOR STUDENTS: <ul><li>The values and expectations of the Third Culture are not fixed and absolute, but in some way each person can be brought to a higher plane of being and knowing </li></ul><ul><li>The path to “perfection” involves </li></ul><ul><ul><li>self-knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a belief that the self matters—one’s own and others’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a belief in one’s worthiness to be taken seriously as a thinking and ethical being </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a willingness to take one’s responsibility to oneself and to the world seriously </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. FOR US: <ul><li>Hold to our values regarding connecting with students and engaging in a continuous process of curriculum and program refinement </li></ul><ul><li>Continue tough discussions about equity and opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Enunciate and adhere to Third Culture values </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to set high standards for all students </li></ul><ul><li>We are the inheritors of a grand and important tradition that was designed to change the world </li></ul><ul><li>We are innovators and leaders in this tradition </li></ul><ul><li>Help our students learn and understand their own place, not only in the Third Culture, but in this tradition and in what it means </li></ul>