The Progressive Era of Education
|Education is a social process ... Education is growth.... Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself. -John Dewey|
The Progressive Movement in education had a lasting impact on practice and instructional methodology. People such as John Dewey and Maria Montessori believed that education should be responsive to the needs and interests of children as opposed to teaching a set curriculum proscribed by traditional practice. In addition they were opposed to strict autocratic teaching styles that relied heavily on textbooks, memorization, and a spare the rod and spoil the child type of mentality. Rather the educational focus of the progressives was on teaching children how to think and learn.
John Dewey (1859-1952) was the most prominent of the progressive educators. He wrote extensively about the need for teachers to understand the world of the child and the necessity for making connections to that world. At the University of Chicago, Dewey and his wife, Alice, established a laboratory school to test progressive principles of education. By 1900 this school was well known and serving as a model of how progressive educational principles could effectively be incorporated into educational practice.
Through her work with the poor children of Rome, Maria Montessori (1870-1952) learned to appreciate the quality of human potential and see the need for nurturing and developing it. She was the first Italian woman to graduate from medical school and become a physician. Montessori like Rousseau, believed that children should be instructed according to where they were developmentally. Children would be given materials and allowed to use them as they saw fit. Instruction would be individualized and this individual attention would help students to develop self-confidence in their ability to learn and the self-discipline needed to study at a more advanced level. Montessori's work and methods spread quickly to the United States and even today Montessori Schools are common throughout the US and many of her methods and materials are used in teaching elementary age children.Think about It: