By: Jenny Lanza and Kelli Correll

The Development of Progressivism

Progressivism was developed from the pragmatic philosophy due to a reaction against perennialist ideas and thinking in education. The progressive movement in education involved a high amount of the social and political reform movement which was what described the United States society around 1900. John Dewey viewed school as a democratic society where students learn the skills needed for democratic living. Progressive thought includes problem solving skills and scientific methods. Progressivism has a strong emphasis on how to learn. It doesn’t focus on what to learn.

What it looks like in the classroom

According to Dewey the teacher is seen as the "leader of group activities." Students are able to analyze and interpret data. The teacher doesn't lecture the students. Instead, the students actively learn and participate in group work. The teacher is the facilitator of learning in an active class which has a democracy environment,
Progressivism in Education
Progressive Education in the 1940s

Pros and Cons of Progressivism in the Classroom

— Pros

-Educates the “whole child” and includes physical and emotional development

-Student is an active participant in their learning

-Students learning by doing is the key approach

-Promotes active engagement and thinking for themselves


-This philosophy does not favor a routine

(If you are a teacher that works with students with disabilities, this is a very important part of their school experience)

-May not prepare children for state and district-wide testing

Major Beliefs, Values, Practices

-Emphasis on learning by doing-hands on

-Integrated Curriculum focused on thematic units

-Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking

-Group work is emphasized

-Assessment by evaluation of child’s projects and productions

-Progressivism (according to Dewey, Kilpatrick, Childs)

Education should be life itself, not a preparation for living

-Learning should be directly related to the interests of the child

-The teachers role is not to direct but to advise

-The school should encourage cooperation rather than competition