Why a Progressive School?

Updated June 08, 2016 |
Why a Progressive School?
Sending your son or daughter to a progressive school sounds like a real leap of faith. It is, that is, until you look more closely at the kind of education your child will receive. Then you will understand the idealism in action which progressive schools embody.
Are you one of those parents who despises standardized testing? You know, the SAT, AP, STAR,FCAT, LSAT, GMAT and so on. Standardized tests are a very common feature of American professional and academic life. But should children in K-12 schools be subject to standardized testing? Is your child very intelligent? Does she want to do things at her pace and not everybody else's? Then you probably should give progressive education a closer look. There are only a handful of progressive boarding schools. We'll put them under the microscope for you.
The Origins of the Progressive Education Movement
The progressive education movement took hold at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Philosophers and educators such as Francis Parker and John Dewey were opposed to the rote learning practiced in most schools at the time. They favored a child-centered style of learning. Children should be able to explore and learn as a result of their own explorations. The emphasis would be on creativity. Fastforward to the beginning of the 21st century and the No Child Left Behind Act. Public K-12 schools were now accountable for achieving certain required educational standards in language arts and mathemtaics. The only way teachers could hit those numbers was to teach to the test. With that background in mind, take a look at what progressive schools have been doing. They have always built their teaching, curricula and culture around the child-centered, experienced-based approach to education. Boarding schools really go to town with the concept because they can be progressive 24/7. If you send your child to a progressive boarding school, he will be immersed in the culture continuously. Progressive day schools certainly offer lots of great programs and teaching. But at a progressive boarding school, you just never stop learning and experiencing the way you want to learn. It's a pretty exciting concept.
Two Progressive Boarding Schools
Take The Putney School, for example. This small boarding school in Putney, Vermont, was founded in 1935 by progressive educator Carmelita Hinton. The school still operates according to her philosophy or fundamental beliefs as the school calls them. It's all about creating a community in which all members care about and are sensitive to the world around them. Putney's faculty does not teach to the test. They don't have to. Consequently you won't find the usual report cards and papers full of red marks at this school. Rather, the school assesses its students in other much more positive ways. SAT preparation and AP courses are not part of this school's college preparation. True academic inquiry and a passion for discovery are. Or The Buxton School in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Set in the midst of a first rate academic community - Williams College - the school affords its students the opportunity to follow their own inclinations and passions. No AP courses here though you can pursue AP course studies with the faculty if you choose. No standardized testing. Report cards will not be found. Where do graduates of a progressive school matriculate? They go on to some pretty fine colleges and universities. Are they at a disadvantage or somehow isolated from the real world because of their education? Quite the contrary. Graduates of a progressive school have been immersed in the process of building stronger communities, learning how to protect the environment and, above all, understanding how true learning takes place. Resources

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