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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 5. The Laboratory School at the Institute of Child Study: Child Study as Progressive Education in Ontario


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Child Study as Progressive Education in Ontario

Theodore M. Christou and Panayiotes Tryphonopoulos

This chapter discusses Toronto’s Institute of Child Study as a bastion of the child study movement. This movement was a distinct aspect of progressive education, which transformed the landscape of public education across Canada in the period following World War I.1 Three principal themes dominated Ontario’s progressivist thinking during the interwar period: a) the relationship of schools to society, which needed to be better correlated, or integrated, as society was rapidly transforming and schools were increasingly out of touch with modern life; b) the cultivation of active learning in the school, which would break with traditional forms of rote learning and examination; and c) the concentration upon the individual child, who had been up to that point, according to progressivist thought, subjugated to an unbending and outdated curriculum.2

As such, this chapter will discuss the Laboratory School, which included a Nursery School, at the Institute of Child Study in light of these three themes, demonstrating the particular interpretations of progressive education that the child study advocates put into place and theory within the context. The Canadian context that gave rise to the progressivist movement in the province of Ontario shall frame the chapter, for it is argued here that the concerted efforts to experiment with, reform, and rethink education in the interwar period are...

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