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«Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today

Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition


Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan

The second edition of «Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today: Progressive Education in the 21 st Century documents a new collection of child-centered progressive schools founded in the first half of the twentieth century and provides histories of some contemporary examples of progressive practices. Part I discusses six progressive schools founded in the first part of the twentieth century (City and Country; Dalton; the Weekday School at Riverside Church; The Laboratory School at the Institute of Child Study; Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School; and Highlander), tracing them from their beginnings. Part II examines four more contemporary schools (Central Park East 1; Central Park East Secondary; Learning Community Charter School; and KIPP TEAM Academy), showing how progressive practices gained momentum from the 1960s onward. As a volume in the History of Schools and Schooling series, this book seeks to look to the past for what it can teach us today.
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Chapter 1. Introduction


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Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik, and Ryan W. Coughlan

Few educational movements have been as maligned and misunderstood as progressive education.1 A few years before the publication of Semel and Sadovnik’s “Schools of Tomorrow,” Schools of Today: What Happened to Progressive Education, critics of American education such as E. D. Hirsch placed the blame of the putative failure of American schools on progressive education,2 although significantly, he often avoided the word “progressive.” Echoing the conservative critique made by scholars such as Arthur Bestor in the 1950s,3 Hirsch and his Core Movement followers saw progressive education as the enemy of academic rigor because of its allegedly “soft pedagogy,” which places the needs and interests of the child ahead of a rigid content-oriented curriculum. Nevertheless, we currently find a renewed interest in child-centered practices in public and private education, much of it reminiscent of the child-centered practices found in some of the earliest progressive schools at the turn of the twentieth century. Those who now champion these progressive practices rarely acknowledge and may be altogether unaware of their historical antecedents.4 This book, therefore, addresses both the current critics of progressive education and its practitioners, and in so doing provides examples of progressive schools that worked and continue to work, as well as those that failed. ← 1 | 2 →

More specifically, this book documents some of the child-centered progressive schools founded in the first half of the twentieth...

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