- any of various reformist educational philosophies and methodologies since the late 1800s, applied especially to elementary schools, that reject the rote recitation and strict discipline of traditional, single-classroom teaching, favoring instead more stimulation of the individual pupil as well as group discussion, more informality in the classroom, a broader curriculum, and use of laboratories, gymnasiums, kitchens, etc., in the school.
A broad movement for educational reform in the twentieth century. Progressive education is principally associated with John Dewey, but it contains many different and often conflicting ideas. In general, progressive educators view existing schools as too rigid, formal, and detached from real life. They prefer informal classroom arrangements and informal relations between pupils and teachers. They also prefer that schools teach useful subjects (including occupations) and emphasize “learning by doing” rather than instruction purely from textbooks. Some place the developing personality of the child at the center of educational thinking and insist, “teach the child, not the subject.”