Progressive Education


The traditional education required students to memorize facts and formulas from disconsolate academic curriculum. Teachers’ jobs were to hear the student’s recitations, though they did not guide in discussions. They established rules, regulations and heavily punished misconductive students. The schools missed enough adult supervision, and as a result, older children could act as disciplinary monitors. Submission to religious beliefs and government authorities were also not taught. A need to change the traditional education method and prepare students for their future life which meant to give them command of themselves lead to progressive education method (Bernard, 1972). There was a need to teach students what they needed at an early age before they become corrupted by the worldly things (Cahn 163).  After studying philosophy, John Dewey decided to make it directly relevant to practical issues. He opened a school to try his hypothesis and their implications. He dedicates himself to discovering how a school could turn to a cooperative community while developing students’ capacities and fulfill their needs.

Teachers College decided to work out school’s curriculum which would remove obsolete materials and adapt it in order to meet the needs of modern living. The school transformed its curriculum from reorganized traditional subject matter into class covering development of students and shifting adult life. The students were able to concentrate on different aspects supporting their interests and needs. The students were widely involved with other activities, cooperatively working together which provided chances for research and exploration.

Impact of Progressive Education

Progressive education was not looked up to and followed by everyone. Significant effects were felt in private school, affluent communities as well as in elementary schools. In communities, the training and care of the students met their parents’ opinions of how to bring up their children. The effect was small in schools with teachers assuming pieces to their old educative routines. Teaching students without sufficient materials made it to be difficult to facilitate projects to their interests and needs. Broader curriculum was a detail of quarrel among the progressives. On the political field, the leaders embraced the progressive education and even accepted the communist and socialist authorities. In contrast, the progressive education was not admired as; it was believed that the aim of education was to make the learners fit in the society and not to challenge it.

 A valuable education prepared the students to live well in the society, and it held their future. Education was required to be shaped to the interest, capacities of individual student’s talent (Cahn 394). This enabled students to be treated with contempt as soft and sentimental instead of being disciplined once their praise sounded ecstatic. Political leaders were condemned once they moved away from politics. In schools parents also feared that their children would not learn the new curriculum. John Dewey repented about the ignorance misinterpretations of his opinions on progressive education. He saw progressive education as a means of intellectual effort, but not its avoidance. The wonder of students and the flexibility of teachers should heighten, not lessen the life of the mind. Anti-progressive education claimed that most students could not tackle their academic work serious as it was with the traditional method of education (Bernard, 1972).

Teaching method of progressive education and materials changed from the one used during the traditional education method. Progressive figure teachers appeared as a facilitator who should make learning fun. They should also encourage their students to participate in school activities, discussions and group projects. Teachers should be kind and closely supervise their students. Good classroom would be a popular community where rules and regulations are honest, everybody has a freedom of speech and each individual feels himself prosperous and productive. This as a result would cause fewer students to drop a significant thoughtfulness of school enrollments out of school (Steven, 2011). If it were enlarged, diverse student bodies would get more from education and like it better as believed by the Progressives.

John made highly significant contribution to the growth of the students’ main approach to the problem solution centered as progressive. He stressed on a development of civilized approach to progressive education. He argued that by allowing students develop their own aims, they would become more productive in their progressive educational studies. He also believed that allowing students to democratically participate in life was more educative for the whole community. A student would be able to think about his or her interest more than that the others’ democratically interacting with the school system, John wanted students to learn from their experience and focus on their studies. The students would have a significant capacity for rational development and be able to aim at the career that they will have in their lives. He emphasized on a more united curriculum through vocational teachings in schools, and he argued that students could be given an opportunity to build their own interests through interacting with other teaching methods and not just learn for the purpose required in the workplace and the society (Hampel, 2000). John did not want the students to focus on their grades but to focus on evolving interests and use their experience to develop their process of learning.

In the recent years, the trend in education has been away from progressive type of it in views of all the authorizations that have ensued in terms of testing and accountability. The values of education have been reduced to a series of multiple selections of tests. The teachers and students jump through unproductive hoops that leave them unmotivated to do any meaningful thing. It seems impossible to meet all that required demands from a person as the result of strict deadlines and high expectations. The world has been saturated with so much violence that the teachers are unable to educate and influence the students in a way of understanding and forcing the judgment. Consequently, that they can be able to participate in everyday working society and become an upstanding citizen with developed traits (Steven, 2011). Teachers do not build the characters of their students but they aid students develop their own human traits. Students can only develop the force of judgment through practice.

The progressive education has significantly increased the roles of teachers. Unlike the traditional form of education where teachers left students to do everything for themselves, the progressive form of education requires teachers to guide the students in their studies. The teachers should guide students in their group discussions and all other activities they may be involved into while staying in school. The progressive education also requires teachers not to heavily punish and discourage the students (Lawrence, 1970). John considers education as a regulation of the approaching process to share its social awareness. Its disability should not be left out as the basis of the social awareness is the only method of social reconstruction.

On the one hand, Feuerstein discusses the thought of intelligence that can be modified through interventions. He developed the theory of mediated learning experience that provides educators with skills and tools to develop the student’s cognitive operations and functions. In this theory, he argued that person’s ability to learn was influenced by cognitive sweetening through mediation (Lawrence, 1970). The theory explains that there should be an interaction amongst the mediator and a learner for the process of learning to be successful. The mediated learning process improves the position of cognition and turns the child into a self governing learner. The mediator aids the students in developing prerequisites that help them in making learning more effective.

On the other hand, John Dewey discusses the importance of progressive education. He argues that a good framework for learning was affected by the interaction and environment. He conceived that schools should instruct students how to solve problems by aiding them to discover how to think other than learning large quantity of information. Schools should aim at assessment rather than cognition so that students can become better adults (Campbell, 1995). He also believed that students should participate in decisions that affect their learning, rights and academic autonomy of teachers.


The significance of progressive education lies in the opinion that education must enlarge and engage experience so as to contribute to the most necessary opinion in education, the exploration of reflection and thinking, the warmth for democracy and to pertain a framework for practice. The curriculum in the schools reflects the development of humans in the society and should be matched with the study of sewing, manual training and cooking (Robert, 2008). There need to be schools for certain individuals, and schools must be receptive to requirements of the world (Cahn 394). Students who begin school at an early age tend to recognize where their interest rest and what they compliment to exercise with their experiences.

The mediated learning process improves the position of cognition and turns the child into a self governing learner. The mediator aids the students in developing prerequisites that help them in making learning more effective. Schools should instruct students on how to solve problems by aiding them to discover how to think other than learning large quantity of information. Children should go to school to do things and live a community which gives them guided experiences which nurtures their capacity to add to the society. The progressive education had enormous significance in the American schooling.

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