What is Progressive Education?

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Walden’s Path Progressive Approach

In our progressive approach, we see the individual child’s curiosities, abilities and learning style as important factors in designing, differentiating and assessing each student’s learning. We encourage children to follow their interests, pursue problems in a way that makes sense to them and defend their conclusions by explaining their thinking in a variety of ways. We engage students with hands-­on investigations, projects and design challenges across the grades and subject areas inspiring greater interest, depth and understanding. Our approach values the skills involved in formulating one’s own questions, as well as answering those of a teacher. We view mistakes as important opportunities for both learning and assessment.


What is Progressive Pedagogy?


 Differences Between Conventional Education and Walden’s Path Constructivist / Progressive Education


  • Conventional School Approach


  • Walden’s Path Progressive Approach


  • School is a preparation for life.
  • School is a part of life.
  • Learners are passive absorbers of information and authority.
  • Learners are active participants, problem solvers, and planners.
  • Teachers are sources of information and authority.
  • Teachers are facilitators, guides who foster thinking.
  • Parents are outsiders and uninvolved.
  • Parents are the primary teachers, goal setters, and planners, and serve as resources.
  • Community is separate from school, except for funding.
  • Community is an extension of the classroom.
  • Decision-making is centrally based and administratively delivered.
  • Decision-making is shared by all constituent groups.
  • Program is determined by external criteria, particularly test results.
  • Program is determined by mission, philosophy, and goals for graduates.
  • Learning is linear, with factual accumulation and skill mastery.
  • Learning is spiral, with depth and breadth as goals.
  • Knowledge is absorbed through lectures, worksheets, and texts.
  • Knowledge is constructed through play, direct experience, and social interaction.
  • Instruction is linear and largely based on correct answers.
  • Instruction is related to central questions and inquiry, often generated by the children.
  • Disciplines, particularly language and math, are separated.
  • Disciplines are integrated as children make connections.
  • Skills are taught discretely and are viewed as goals.
  • Skills are related to content and are viewed as tools.
  • Assessment is norm-referenced, external, and graded.
  • Assessment is benchmarked, has many forms, and is progress-oriented.
  • Success is competitively based, derived from recall and memory, and specific to a time/place.
  • Success is determined through application over time, through collaboration.
  • Products are the end point.
  • Products are subsumed by process considerations.
  • Intelligence is a measure of linguistic and logical/mathematical abilities.
  • Intelligence is recognized as varied, includes the arts, and is measured in real-life problem-solving.
  • School is a task to be endured.
  • School is a challenging and fun part of life.



Source: Robert G. Peters, with thanks to the books Schools of Quality, by John Jay Bonstigl, and In Search of Understanding, by Martin C. Brooks and Jaqueline Grennon, Independent Schools.