EDU 6120/ Module 6: Enlightenment and Progressive Education

This week, Professor Scheuerman (2014) discussed perspectives on Progressive education within the scope of describing the influence of the Enlightenment Period on modern American pedagogy. Progressive educators have been accused of being anemic in content, with a disproportionate focus on process. I agree with Professor Scheuerman that this is an unfair accusation. I have taught for a Progressive school for three years, and our curricula is rich. Teachers at this school have varied and deep academic knowledge backgrounds that they weave into all instruction. A dedicated team of teachers and administration collaborate to adapt highly effective, research-based curricula like Bridges Math and Columbia Teachers College Readers and Writers Workshop to a Progressive pedagogy. For example, in Bridges Math curriculum there is a great focus on process and helping students to develop skills for metacognition and articulation of mathematical concepts and the content is rigorous and relevant to student’s life experience. Teachers support students in productive discussions and explorations of relating math concepts to their holistic experience.
Another aspect of the Enlightenment Period’s influence I connected with is the classroom management philosophy that can be credited to thinkers like Herbart who was one of the first educational thinkers to propose that individuals need choice in the process and content of acquiring new knowledge. By providing a compelling curriculum that captures the imaginations of students and invites them to be constructive in a process of exploration, students take pride and ownership of new knowledge. According to Ellis (n.d.), providing students with creative outlets for expressing individual translations of new knowledge is essential to a persuasive classroom management style. I see children do this naturally when given subjects of interest, a structured inquiry task and then the freedom to explore their curiosities. I witness children constructing independent learning experiences outside of the classroom everyday. Recently, I observed my ten-year-old friend listening to music and choreographing dances in her living room with complete focus and joy. While experiencing discomfort while attempting a new process or exploring new content is a necessary component of learning, I believe the Progressive approach of providing opportunities for students to construct the journey to mastery is sustaining and meaningful.
Reference:
Scheuerman, R. (Producer). (July, 2014). Session 6 podcast a: Johann Friedrich Herbart and the “circle of thought.” [Audio podcast].
Retrieved from https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/79839793/session%206%20podcast%20a.mp3

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