What Is the Approach Taken by Progressivism Towards Education?

The approach taken by progressivism towards education is one based on students acquiring the skills for what is most relevant to their lives and involves active learning along with encouraging curiosity. Progress, change and the fostering of individuality are key elements of what is known in the United States as the "Progressive Education Movement," and it reflects a departure from the traditional academic approach of the 19th century. Students in progressive educational curricula interact with each other as a means of developing social skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and tolerance for differing views.

Progressive education differs from the "classical" academic approach, which is focused on preparing students to enter a university. The older, traditional approach could also display significant variances based on the student's social class. Proponents of progressive education, such as the early 20th century educator and philosopher John Dewey, believed that students are best served by direct involvement in the processes that will enable them to achieve the result. This shifts the focus away from rote memorization and over to hands-on engagement. The intent is to prepare the student to develop and construct their own learning processes so that they can be best prepared to deal with unforeseen circumstances when they appear.

The development of the skills required for social responsibility, entrepreneurship and problem solving are some of the objectives of progressive education. Teachers take on more of a role as facilitators in their students' learning through discovery and there is a lesser degree of reliance on "text-book learning."