Sunday, March 21, 2010

Progressive Education

Kohn, Alfie (2008, Spring). Progressive education why its hard to beat, but also hard to find, Retrieved March 21, 2010 from

In the article Progressive Education: Why It’s Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find, author Alfie Kohn proposes the advantages of progressive education. First, Kohn examines the blurry lines that often describe and define progressive and traditional education. According to Kohn, “progressive schools can be characterized according to how closely they reflect a commitment to values such as these: attending to the whole child, community, collaboration, social justice, intrinsic motivation, deep understanding, active learning, and taking kids seriously.” Kohn provides explanation and examples of each of these criteria and then deepens the readers understanding of progressive schools by illustrating what they are not—reporting on the misconceptions about progressive education. He concludes the article with the assertion that progressive education
“makes sense” and is a “worthy pursuit.”

The strength of this article lies in the explanations and data used to support the value of progressive education. This article is an excellent companion piece to the text The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner.

Relevant Quotes:

“It’s not all or nothing, to be sure. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school — even one with scripted instruction, uniforms, and rows of desks bolted to the floor — that has completely escaped the influence of progressive ideas. Nor have I seen a school that’s progressive in every detail.”

“Learning is a matter of constructing ideas rather than passively absorbing information or practicing skills.”

“But progressive educators don’t merely say they endorse ideas like “love of learning” or “a sense of community.” They’re willing to put these values into practice even if doing so requires them to up-end traditions. They may eliminate homework altogether if it’s clear that students view after-school assignments as something to be gotten over with as soon as possible. They will question things like honors classes and awards assemblies that clearly undermine a sense of community.”

“What distinguishes progressive education is that students must construct their own understanding of ideas.”

“A truly impressive collection of research has demonstrated that when students are able to spend more time thinking about ideas than memorizing facts and practicing skills — and when they are invited to help direct their own learning — they are not only more likely to enjoy what they’re doing but to do it better. Progressive education isn’t just more appealing; it’s also more productive.”

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