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Progressive Education and Progressive Educators - Essay Example

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Most progressives believed that "the people" were fundamentally wise and good. If freed from institutional restraints, such as nominating conventions, partisan designations, and formal party structure, "the people" could be relied upon to provide their elected leaders with trustworthy guidance…
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Progressive Education and Progressive Educators
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Running Head Progressive Education and Progressive Educators Progressive Education and Progressive Educators Most progressives believed that "the people" were fundamentally wise and good. If freed from institutional restraints, such as nominating conventions, partisan designations, and formal party structure, "the people" could be relied upon to provide their elected leaders with trustworthy guidance. This guidance would manifest itself in direct primary elections and initiative, referendum, and recall procedures. The six general themes of progressives were (1) the important role of the government in economic power, (2) redevelopment of the political institutions, (3) scientific methods as a core of all transformations, (4) support of educational institutions in the reforms, (5) redesign of the national environment, (6) restoring spirit of community. These 'themes' were created in order to confront the problems of the postwar society. Progressives looked optimistically for signs of political and economic democracy during the postwar "reconstruction." Progressivism was at its heart an effort to remoralize society. At all political levels, politicians advocated laws to facilitate moral economic and political systems. They advocated city improvements, like pure water and sanitary sewage. They wanted honesty in public officials. They wanted the right for the people to initiate important legislation. They wanted the right to have referenda on laws that politicians enacted. They wanted the right to recall public officials who did not do what they had been elected to do.
The first phase of progressivism, "The Genesis phase", took place between 1890-1910. The aim of this stage was to test innovative ideas and theories, and develop a new approach to education. John Dewey supported the idea that students should be active learners. The second phase, "Child Centered Education", took place between 1919-1930. Dewey promulgated and tested a child-centered approach in education. The phase of "social reconstruction" took place between 1930-1945. Scholars supposed that school, as the main social institution, could improve social morality and values. The forth stage took place after the war, 1946-1957. The aim was to improve morality and introduced practical approach to education.
The larger picture is that the progressives made great efforts to remoralize a society in danger of sinking into industrial slavery. They had to deal with modem industry, in other words, without professionals capable of fixing the machinery of government. The progressives supposed that the best education could offer practical opportunities for both the individuals and society. The main changes were increasing role of a student in educational process, the role of home assignment and family support, support of creativity and innovations, freedom to learn and group projects, etc. Today, education in schools, colleges and universities are based on these principles encouraging group work and cooperation between students. The progressives played a special attention to the process itself and organization of education. They underlined that educational process should be based on daily activities and planning process. The progressives saw education of young minds as an important part of everyday culture which constituted the society. Today, American system of education follows the same principles: students have choices in activities, movable tables and chairs, discussions and nature studies, etc. Working with peers enables students to be challenged by the views of others, clarify ideas and interpret and use appropriate language. "As the child matures, subjects should be pursued in an integrated rather than discrete fashion" (Progressive Education and Progressive Educators). In the power of reasoned argument to change society, and the eager interest with which extensions of scientific knowledge were followed and understood, and their implications for other areas of study explored and discussed. Science and morality are supposed to play a central part in this process as the representation of the knowledge which, once it has been made available to all, will assist in the attainment of this absolute freedom.
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