progressive education

  1. 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.

Words Nearby progressive education Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use progressive education in a sentence

  • It is the aim of progressive education to take part in correcting unfair privilege and unfair deprivation, not to perpetuate them.

  • The progressive education of a child should be, as far as possible, unconscious.

    Concerning Children | Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The further development of religion in a community so mixed must depend on the progressive education and elevation of the people.

    History of Religion | Allan Menzies
  • "It takes time to undo the damage of progressive education," McCarthy said.

    What Rough Beast? | Jefferson Highe
  • "It was progressive education that destroyed reading," McCarthy said heatedly.

    What Rough Beast? | Jefferson Highe

Cultural definitions for progressive education

progressive education

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.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.