The Rise and Fall of Progressive Education
DESPITE the objective problems of American schools in the immediate postwar years--the teacher shortage, the low salaries, the need for buildings, and the uncertainty of future funding--American educators took pride in the fact that they shared a common philosophy about the role and the purpose of the schools. They knew what they needed--more money--and they knew why--to educate all American youth. By the 1940s, the ideals and tenets of progressive education had become the dominant American pedagogy. If one were to judge by the publications of the U.S. Office of Education, the various state departments of education, city school boards, and professional education associations, as well as by the textbooks that were required reading in schools of education, progressive education was the conventional wisdom, the lingua franca of American educators. Whether progressive practices were equally commonplace is another issue, but there can be little doubt that the language and ideas of progressive education permeated public education.
The triumph of progressive education consisted largely in the fact that by the mid-1940s it was no longer referred to as progressive education but as "modern education," the "new education," or simply, "good educational practice." The education profession's view of itself, its history, and