Progressive educators

This page lists just a few of the important progressive educators who have influenced education around the world, and have continuing relevance today. I make no claim that the list is comprehensive. It is instead selective, along the following criteria:

  • The people identified here promote a view of learning, indeed of humanity, which seeks to prepare students for active participation in a democratic society, fosters the development of a critical, socially-engaged intelligence, nurtures students’ natural desire to learn, values diverse people and perspectives, and perhaps above all, exhibits a trust in people.
  • In the US, some of these educators were associated with the Progressive Education Association or the contemporary Progressive Education Network, but the goal here is to define a broader scope encompassing those in other countries and even those who are not usually classified as educators.
  • The emphasis is on those who enacted their ideas, not only in schools, but also in informal learning, political movements, and daily life.
  • All of those included thus far are deceased. I may make a larger, or separate, list for living educators later.

What follows is an ad hoc list in alphabetical order. I welcome suggestions regarding the comments and additions.

Elsie Ripley Clapp

Elsie Ripley Clapp

Elsie Clapp.

Leonard Covello

Leonard Covello

Leonard Covello (1887-1982). Drew from his own immigrant experiences to develop an innovative community-centered schooling approach in East Harlem, first working with Italian youth and then Puerto Rican and Black youth.

Célestin Freinet

Célestin Freinet

Célestin Freinet. Merged the political and the pedagogical with practical ideas for empowered teachers.

Myles Horton

Myles Horton

Myles Horton.

Loris Malaguzzi

Loris Malaguzzi

Loris Malaguzzi.

Louise Michel

Louise Michel

Louise Michel. A courageous leader who combined efforts on behalf of oppressed people, including Parisians in the Paris Commune and Kanak people in New Caledonia, with innovative teaching.

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells.

Ella Flagg Young

Ella Flagg Young

Ella Flagg Young. The first woman in the US to head a large city school system (Chicago) and the first woman president of the National Education Association. Her work was the basis for John Dewey’s The School and Society.

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