Thursday, April 10, 2014

progressive education

Yesterday, as I was taking one of our ISACS accreditation team to the airport, he said that Clear Spring School is the only truly progressive school he's visited, and that while many schools claim to be progressive, most are truly not. The word progressive should not be confused with the word progress. It is not something new. Progressive refers to the natural progression of child development, based on observations of a long line of educators from Froebel and Pestalozzi to Uno Cygnaeus, Otto Salomon, John Dewey, William Heard Kilpatrick and others. First and foremost learning should arise from the interests of the child.... then as stated so well by educational sloyd, move from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex, and from the concrete to the abstract. Now, that's progressive and if schools were progressive, we would have progress. The video below is about a progressive school in 1939.

What follows are the seven principles of progressive education as described in the movement. Clear Spring School did not use these as a purposeful guide in developing its mission, but these principles as expressed here closely reflect our educational philosophy.
  1. Freedom to Develop Naturally: The conduct of the pupil should be governed by himself according to the social needs of his community, rather than by arbitrary laws. Full opportunity for initiative and self-expression should be provided, together with an environment rich in interesting material that is available for the free use of every pupil. 
  2. Interest, the Motive of all Work: Interest should be satisfied and developed through: (1) Direct and indirect contact with the world and its activities, and use of the experience thus gained. (2) Application of knowledge gained, and correlation between different subjects. (3) The consciousness of achievement. 
  3. The Teacher a Guide, not a Task-Master: It is essential that teachers should believe in the aims and general principles of Progressive Education and that they should have latitude for the development of initiative and originality. Progressive teachers will encourage the use of all the senses, training the pupils in both observation and judgment; and instead of hearing recitations only, will spend most of the time teaching how to use various sources of information, including life activities as well as books; how to reason about the information thus acquired; and how to express forcefully and logically the conclusions reached. Ideal teaching conditions demand that classes be small, especially in the elementary school years. 
  4.  Scientific Study of Pupil Development: School records should not be confined to the marks given by the teachers to show the advancement of the pupils in their study of subjects, but should also include both objective and subjective reports on those physical, mental, moral and social characteristics which affect both school and adult life, and which can be influenced by the school and at home. Such records should be used as a guide for the treatment of each pupil, and should also serve to focus the attention of the teacher on the all-important work of development rather than on simply teaching subject matter 
  5. Greater Attention to all that Affects the Child’s Physical Development: One of the first considerations of Progressive Education is the health of the pupils. Much more room in which to move about, better light and air, clean and well ventilated buildings, easier access to the out-of-doors and greater use of it, are all necessary. There should be frequent use of adequate playgrounds. The teachers should observe closely the physical condition of each pupil and, in co-operation with the home, make abounding health the first objective of childhood.
  6.  Co-Operation Between School & Home to Meet the Needs of Child-Life: The school should provide, with the home, as much as is possible of all that the natural interests and activities of the child demand, especially during the elementary school years. These conditions can come about only through intelligent co-operation between parents and teachers. 
  7. The Progressive School a Leader in Educational Movements: The Progressive School should be a leader in educational movements. It should be a laboratory where new ideas, if worthy, meet encouragement; where tradition alone does not rule, but the best of the past is leavened with the discoveries of today, and the result is freely added to the sum of educational knowledge.
Today in the wood shop, I'll be working on boxes. I have been way behind in filling orders and have a mountain of parts to assemble into small boxes.

Make, fix and create...

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