Progressive Education

Progressive education means favoring change or improvement, as opposed to wanting to maintain the status quo.  There will always be people who see opportunities for growth in education and in life.  We need to ensure that we become and then remain people who are willing to explore and take risks. We can use proven strategies, but also need to remain lifelong learners in education ourselves if we want to be progressive.

Seth Godin (2014) asserts that there are people who like the old; they are comfortable there, so don’t necessarily want a change. Even when the changes are positive, they are afraid of the unknown or don’t understand the new. Sometimes they just don’t want to put in the work that comes with a change.

My mom went back to college in the early 1970’s after leaving school to get married and have four children.  When I was in kindergarten at a Catholic school where my siblings attended, my mom completed her student teaching in a “progressive program” at the local public school. She decided to send me there the next year for 1st and 2nd grade because they had an “open classroom” model. It allowed for a first grade and second grade class to be combined with both teachers in a large room.  I remember there being centers and we were grouped according to ability for each subject, rather than grade level. I remember feeling excited to go to school to learn those two years because every day was something new. I often wonder what happened to that concept.   Apparently, somebody thought it didn’t work or was too difficult to sustain.

Since I started teaching in the early 1990’s, I have seen so many strategies, methods, and tools come and go.  Currently I am teaching under a grant-funded program called TAP which was created by Lowell Milken and NIET.  The idea behind it is that teachers are rewarded to learn and implement best practices to become more effective teachers, thereby maximizing student learning.  I wanted to teach in the TAP system to grow as an educator.  There are many teachers in the program in my district who feel the same way, but unfortunately many do not.  They question why they must change something they are used to doing their way.  They argue that they know how their students learn best.  The problem is the data doesn’t show that what they are saying is true.  It is too easy to blame other causes for low performance.  Instead, I look forward to seeing the impact three years of quality instruction can have on our students.  Godin said when we break the rules, we do so at our own peril.  We are working to break some rules, so that’s a scary thought.



Godin, S. (2014, September 16). People who like this stuff. Retrieved from

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