Introductionprogressive education, movement in American education. Confined to a period between the late 19th and mid-20th cent., the term "progressive education" is generally used to refer only to those educational programs that grew out of the American reform effort known as the progressive movement. The sources of the movement, however, partly lie in the pedagogy of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Johann Pestalozzi, and Friedrich Froebel.
Progressive education was a pluralistic phenomenon, embracing industrial training, agricultural education, and social education as well as the new techniques of instruction advanced by educational theorists. Postulates of the movement were that children learn best in those experiences in which they have a vital interest and that modes of behavior are most easily learned by actual performance. The progressives insisted, therefore, that education must be a continuous reconstruction of living experience based on activity directed by the child. The recognition of individual differences was also considered crucial. Progressive education opposed formalized authoritarian procedure and fostered reorganization of classroom practice and curriculum as well as new attitudes toward individual students.
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