Progressive education

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John Dewey in 1902
Progressive education refers to the movement in education reform during the late 19th century and early 20th century, led by John Dewey (1859-1953), which sought to reform society through education. These reformers challenged the earlier aim of public schooling to achieve cultural uniformity and to educate dutiful, useful citizens. Instead they emphasized experiential learning and critical thinking, and "opposed a growing national movement that sought to separate academic education for the few, and narrow vocational training for the masses, preparing workers for their vocational roles." They opposed the fact that public schools were training workers for an industrial economy, and bemoaned the decline of local community life and small scale enterprise. The term "progressive" was first used during this period, roughly 1890-1920. "Progressives believed that people and government had the power to correct abuses produced by nature and the free market."[1]

John Dewey, a professor of philosophy and psychology, propagated his reform ideas through many books, such as Democracy and Education in 1916, lectures and articles and even founded the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago along with other reformers to put his ideas into practice. In contrast to education "administrative progressives," who were reforming public schools using new scientific techniques such as intelligence testing and cost-benefit management, progressive educators emphasized the emotional, artistic, and creative aspects of human development, "the most living and essential parts of our natures," as Margaret Naumburg put it in The Child and the World." Progressive education proposed "child-centered" and "social reconstructionist" approaches to education, in order educate the whole child to be an active participant in the community, and contribute to the common good. The Progressive Education Association was founded in 1919, aiming at "reforming the entire school system of America." Although progressive education ideas were seen as too radical at the time, they survived mainly in education schools and still inspire educational alternatives to a "regime of standardization and mechanization" in secondary schooling.[2]

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