Definition • Progressive education is a kind of educational philosophy that began in the late 19th century, and has a considerable influence on the American school education at that time. The term progressive was engaged to distinguish this education from the traditional Euro-American curricula. In order to institute changes in society and allow people to live to their full potential, progressives looked towards making fundamental changes in their schools. Shying away from the dreary, skill-based, drill-and-recite curriculum, they wanted something more engaging, more relevant, that would unlock the potential in students and essentially, the future.
It emphasizes on: • hands-on approach, expeditionary learning, experiential learning; • problem solving and critical thinking; • lifelong learning and social skills; • collaborative and cooperative learning projects; • education for social responsibility and democracy; • personalized learning accounting for each individual's personal goals. • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82wIKsW8tfo
Key elements (in early childhood) • Follow all of the child's ability or power. • The teacher's role is to encourage, rather than supervision. • School should be positive and proactive, and problem solving. • Mutual, passionate and humane classroom atmosphere. • More space for activity. • The curriculum should be adapted to the maturity level of each child and be personalized according to the child's interest, creativity, self-expression and personality development. • Provide children with a wealth of teaching materials, so that they can explore, operate and use. • Against oppression and severe punishment.
Progressive education pioneers Francis Parker John Dewey William Kilpatrick
Parker’s opinion: • Parker's education reform is known for his "Quincy teaching method". The main features of the Quincy teaching method are: Firstly, he was deeply influenced by Rousseau's naturalistic educational thought that children had the inherent ability to study and work spontaneously. Secondly, he advocates that school curricula are linked to social practice. He abolished the original teaching model, using a more natural way, to give up recitation, to promote understanding. He gave up the traditional fixed course, choose the things closely linked with the daily life of students as a textbook. Thirdly, he paid attention to cultivating children's self-exploration and creative spirit. He thought teachers should enable students to develop inquiry, find the habit of truth. At last, the importance of the school's social function. he believes that schools should form an ideal family, which will help children's social education.
John Dewey’s opinion: • The role of the teacher in a progressive education program is to provide a carefully designed environment and curriculum ripe for learning, and to prepare children to be members of a democratic society. Teachers’ duties included observing children, and according to their observations, ask questions and provide experiences designed to integrate different subject and interest areas to assist children in expanding and exploring their world. Teachers were seen as guides, not instructors or disciplinarians. The curriculum would include "real experiences" like carpentry, weaving, cooking, and the study of local geography.
Kilpatrick’s opinion: • Kilpatrick developed the Project Method for early childhood education, which was a form of Progressive Education that organized curriculum and classroom activities around a subject's central theme. He believed that the role of a teacher should be that of a "guide" as opposed to an authoritarian figure. Kilpatrick believed that children should direct their own learning according to their interests and should be allowed to explore their environment, experiencing their learning through the natural senses.Proponents of Progressive Education and the Project Method reject traditional schooling that focuses on memorization, rote learning, strictly organized classrooms (desks in rows; students always seated), and typical forms of assessment. He has been described as a developmentalist.
To sum up • Children-centered. • Real life is the curriculum.“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” – John Dewey • Teaching for problem solving. • Weaken teacher’s authority. Remove the indoctrination. • Emphasize on collaboration.
Relate to research This theory is the subordinate of critical theory. • Article ‘Theories of Educational Research’ mentions that there are four “umbrella” theories in educational research: Positivism, Phenomenology, Critical theory, Postmodernism. • Critical theory focuses on values and accepts that the researcher can never be a neutral ‘scientific’ observer since their very presence changes the phenomena or situation being observed. • Because the character of this theory, the research design should pay attention to the changing environment and individual experience, and qualitative methodology is appropriate to be used in research.
Discussion question: • The significant achievement and the weakness of progressive education theory when implement in early childhood education.
Reference: • Gutek, Gerald L. (2009). New perspectives on philosophy and education. Pearson Education, Inc. p. 346. ISBN 0- 205-59433-6. • Brundett, & Rhodes (2011). Theories of educational research.