Journal series on progressive education

The International Journal of Progressive Education (IJPE) has now published a series of three special issues on “Progressive Education: Past, Present and Future”:

  1. Progressive Education: Antecedents of Educating for Democracy (IJPE 9.1, February 2013)
  2. Progressive Education: Educating for Democracy and the Process of Authority (IJPE 9.2, June 2013)
  3. What’s Next?: The Future of Progressivism as an “Infinite Succession of Presents” (IJPE 9.3, October 2013)

I worked on these journal issues with John Pecore, Brian Drayton, and Maureen Hogan, as well as article contributors from around the world. We’re now exploring options for developing some of the articles along with some additional material into a handbook. The series is timely given current debates about the purpose and form of education in an era of rapid technological change, globalization, demographic and political shifts, and growing economic inequities. It asks, “What have we learned about pedagogy that can support democratic, humanistic, and morally responsible development for individuals and societies?”

Progressive education is a pedagogical movement that emphasizes aspects such as learning by doing, student-centered learning, valuing diversity, integrated curriculum, problem solvingcritical thinking, collaborative learning, education for social responsibility, and lifelong learning. It situates learning within social, community, and political contexts. It was promoted by the Progressive Education Association in the US from 1919 to 1955, and reflected in the educational philosophy of John Dewey.

But as an approach to pedagogy, progressive education is in no way limited to the US or the past century. In France, the Ecole Moderne, developed from the work of Célestin Freinet, emphasizes the social activism side of progressive education. Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education demonstrates the importance of art in learning, a key element of the holistic approach in progressive education. Paulo Freire’s work in Brazil on critical literacy, highlights the link between politics and pedagogy. Similarly, influenced by his experiences in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi’s conception of basic education resonates with progressive ideals of learning generated within everyday life, cooperation, and educating the whole person, including moral development.

It is worth noting that progressive education invariably seeks to go beyond the classroom walls. Thus, the work of Jane Addams and others at Hull House with immigrants fits, even if it is not situated within a traditional school. Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School focused on social activism with adults, exemplifying the progressive education ideals. So too is the Escuela Nueva in Spain, Colombia, and elsewhere. The informal learning in museums, libraries, community and economic development, and online may express progressive education more fully than what we see in many schools today.

We hope that these issues will prove to be a useful resource for anyone interested improving education for a healthier world.

3 thoughts on “Journal series on progressive education

  1. It is a good time for progressive or student oriented education brought upon us by technology and new thinking. The use of MOOC;s and internet programs allow learners to select materials; and the turn around techniques of classrooms, with students learning materials and then returning to9 the classroom to discuss or ask questions. New programs for teachers such as CANVAS enable teachers to easily present materials and allow students to do distant education;. the present emphasis on online classes furthermore promotes learning and student oriented learning. It should be mentioned that a new framework,” Community Informatics,” the use of communications and internet technology to further and build communities adds meaning to these efforts. It all depends, however, on the excellence of the teacher and the way the technology is used.


  2. Sorry that wasn’t clear. If you click on the title of of one of the issues, it does take you to a sort of citation page. Near the top of that page, you’ll see something like “ijpev9n3.pdf (4MB)” under the word “File”. Clock on that and you should see the complete journal issue.

    The links you sent are interesting. Some of the articles in the special issue mention those changes, btu they could have gone further in really addressing them. Maybe we need a followup!


  3. Hi Chip, Is there any way of actually reading some of these articles? I clicked around, and all I could get was what were essentially citations. Did I miss a critical click???!!!

    It was my reading of the following articles that led me to want to read further on the topic, and thought your articles might fill the bill. I have no “professional” interest… just curiosity and grandchildren. -Esther!/!/

    On Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 3:42 PM, Chips journey


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s