progressive education

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

progressive education

progressive education, movement in American education. Confined to a period between the late 19th and mid-20th cent., the term "progressive education" is generally used to refer only to those educational programs that grew out of the American reform effort known as the progressive movement. The sources of the movement, however, partly lie in the pedagogy of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Johann Pestalozzi, and Friedrich Froebel.

Progressive education was a pluralistic phenomenon, embracing industrial training, agricultural education, and social education as well as the new techniques of instruction advanced by educational theorists. Postulates of the movement were that children learn best in those experiences in which they have a vital interest and that modes of behavior are most easily learned by actual performance. The progressives insisted, therefore, that education must be a continuous reconstruction of living experience based on activity directed by the child. The recognition of individual differences was also considered crucial. Progressive education opposed formalized authoritarian procedure and fostered reorganization of classroom practice and curriculum as well as new attitudes toward individual students.

Various Progressive Plans

John Dewey, an early proponent of progressive education, maintained that schools should reflect the life of the society. He suggested that the schools take on such responsibilities as the acculturation of immigrants in addition to merely teaching academic skills. Dewey also proposed a number of specific curricular changes that had strong impact on subsequent reformers. At his Laboratory School in Chicago, for example, Dewey developed (1896–1904) a method in which younger student groups worked on a central project related to their own interests. The division of more advanced work into units organized around some central theme was an attempt to adapt the method to the academic needs of older children.

Other efforts to reorganize the schools included the Gary plan, developed (1908–15) in Gary, Ind. Devised to utilize the school plant more efficiently, to provide opportunity for more practical work, and to coordinate various levels of schooling, the plan divided the school building into classrooms and space for auditorium, playground, shops, and laboratories. Two schools ran simultaneously in this space so that every facility was in constant use. The school day was eight hours long, and schools were open six days a week. The Gary plan was widely adopted. The Dalton plan (1919), at Dalton, Mass., subdivided the work of the traditional curriculum into contract units, which the student undertook to accomplish in a specified amount of time. The Winnetka plan, established (1919) at Winnetka, Ill., separated the curriculum into the subjects handled by the Dalton technique and used the cooperative method of creative social activities developed by Dewey.

A prominent experimental school was established by Francis Parker at the Cook County Normal School (Chicago, 1883). The Horace Mann School (New York City, 1887), the Lincoln School (1917) at Teachers College, Columbia Univ., and the experimental school (1915) at the State Univ. of Iowa were other notable progressive institutions. Activities programs were designed to supply certain aspects of progressive education to those schools in which more radical adjustments were not possible; the activities included clubs, student self-government, and school publications.

Popularity and Long-term Effects

The principles and practices of progressive education gained wide acceptance in American school systems during the first half of the 20th cent.; similar pedagogical innovations were instituted in many of the schools of Europe. From its inception, however, the movement elicited rather sharp criticism from a variety of different sources, particularly for its failure to emphasize systematic study of the academic disciplines. Opposition increased greatly in the years following World War II, and many hold that by the late 1950s the movement had collapsed. By that time, however, the progressive movement had effected a permanent transformation in the character of the American school, and many progressive schools across the country were firmly established. Other educational reform movements that have been affected by or are similar to progressive education are open education, the Summerhill school, and the reforms of Maria Montessori.

Bibliography

See J. Dewey, The School and Society (1899, rev. ed. 1943, repr. 1961), Schools of To-morrow (1915, repr. 1962), and Democracy and Education (1916, rev. ed. 1944, repr. 1966); H. Rugg and A. Shumaker, The Child-Centered School (1928, repr. 1969); L. A. Cremin, The Transformation of the School (1961, repr. 1964); P. A. Graham, Progressive Education from Arcady to Academe (1967); L. Gordon, Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era (1990); K. Jervis and C. Montag, ed., Progressive Education for the 1990s (1991).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

progressive education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.