Picture your ideal classroom. What do you see? A line of desks, concentrated students diligently solving math problems? Or do you envision something different?
Perhaps you picture a classroom electric with energy. Small groups of students stand at whiteboards around the classroom, debating, arguing, and trying to figure out the best approach to a difficult math problem. A teacher circulates, asking questions and making observations. And suddenly, a flash of celebration, as the students come to the solution. They’re active; they’re engaged; they’re motivated. And they’re learning.
This is the promise of progressive education.
What is Progressive Education?
Arising out of the ideas of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the progressive educational movement focuses on the process of learning over the rote memorization of facts. Beginning in the 19th century, progressive educators such as John Dewey, Rudolf Steiner, and Maria Montessori began to develop a philosophy of education that became progressive education as we know it today.
A true definition of progressive education is admittedly difficult to pin down – the field is broad and contains many schools of thought. However, there are several values that are shared by the progressive education community.
Attending to the Whole Child
Progressive educators are concerned with the holistic development of the child. Intellectual and academic growth is but one part of the picture in progressive education – the social, emotional, moral, artistic, athletic, and even athletic evolution of the child are equally considered.
Progressive schools offer a stimulating academic environment. In addition, most progressive schools also encourage students to explore