Monthly Archives: February 2017

Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Will Use D.C. Power to Force Vouchers Down Your Throat — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Here is a paradox. Congress wrote a new law called “Every Student Succeeds Act,” late in 2015, loaded with limits on the power of the Secretary of Education. Both parties were fed up with Arne Duncan’s overweening reach into every school in the nation, going far beyond what Congress intended. Perhaps they knew that all […]

via Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Will Use D.C. Power to Force Vouchers Down Your Throat — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Progressivism and the fulfilled life…

Leafing through the many pages of my writing from over the years, I ran across an education article I wrote in 1991 as I was just beginning my journey into education. After reviewing it, I find it amazing that in all the years since my philosophy of education remains as steadfast as it did then (with a few additional refinements). Though there is much I would change as far as grammar and style, I have chosen to publish my article in original form.

John Dewey - Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to ...

Progressivism and the fulfilled life…

“The aim of education should be to teach the child to think, not what to think.” One brief comment by John Dewey (1859 – 1952) can sum up the total concept of progressive education. Progressivism’s basic underlying concept is that the physical world is the basis of reality, and as such, progresses over time. Since the world is progressing and changing over time, so must the ideas and methods behind educational instruction.

Sydney Smith said, “The real object of education is to give children the resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that will ameliorate, not destroy; occupations that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.” Careful scrutiny of Smith’s statement might lead one to the conclusion that indeed, these ideals reached, would lead an individual to a fulfilled life. Through Dewey’s methods of instruction, a child should, in all probability eventually reach this state of fulfillment in life.

The underlying basis for Dewey’s progressive schooling is that we learn best from meaningful life experiences, social interaction, and scientific experimentation. The focus of the curriculum is flexible, integrating academics around activities reflecting the personal integrity, need and experiences of the students. Each one has a path to take in life. Surely each path should be taken in the most harmonious manner to the individual. Just as we are not all Einstein’s – we cannot all be molded into the same form of thinking.

Dewey’s philosophy of education has students learning by doing. Students are directed or guided by a teacher into integrated learning experiences in which the student is encouraged to think and perform to the best of his/her ability in his/her most appropriate style.

What does the author mean by most appropriate style? Every student learns in a different style.  Some are auditory learners while still others are visual.  Many learn best through hands-on experiences. Progressivism allows for freedom of expression in learning.  It’s goal is for students to become independent problem solvers, to enjoy learning, and to live comfortably (remember Smith?) in the world while also helping to reshape it (as it progresses). When we encourage individual growth in an independent manner and style we encourage people who can function well in the world because they are living up to their potential. The “fulfilled life” – giving our children “resources that will last as long as life endures.”

We truly give them these resources by encouraging the use of the individual’s abilities. Dewey believes that as the world progresses, so must education. Children of today are not the children of yesterday. They are living in a new world and must be led toward the path of fulfillment with as little stagnation as possible. Progressivism can help lead them in the right direction.

Americans are entering another new era in education. One in which vouchers may wreak havoc on many of the tried and true methods of learning that positively led many of us to high student achievement over years past. We must all be responsible enough to hold our government officials accountable for the policy changes they make which may or may not lead our future generations to “the fulfilled life.”


Social Skills Instruction – Needed Now More Than Ever…

multicultural students

In schools across the nation, violence has become a part of “daily life”. While it may be that we hear of it more often in secondary schools – violence is prevalent in all schools beginning in the elementary years.

When schools, administrators, and teachers are placed under microscopes to create readers and great test takers at all costs, developmental practices of teaching the whole child vanish from the curriculum. Pushdown curriculums frustrate learners who need to learn along a progressive continuum in order to establish self-worth, “I can” attitudes, and ultimate learning success.

We can’t assume that teaching reading and math for most of the day will lead to well-rounded learners. In order for children to thrive, they need to learn the fundamentals of being functional in society as well. This used to begin at an early age with social studies instruction, yet social studies instruction has virtually vanished from the curriculum. No time.

Children do not automatically learn how to behave. They learn by what they see and know to any given point in their lives. It takes everyone to provide appropriate behavior learning conditions and modeling. If it’s not happening in the home it needs to happen in the classroom. Unfortunately, teachers are so restricted by what and how they have to teach, they run the risk of poor evaluations if they step outside of the “box” they have been placed in.

We can’t blame children or teachers for what is happening in schools today. Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at the curriculum being provided and offer a better path to higher student achievement through positive social interaction instruction which teaches children that morals, character, and compassion for others will lead them to being caring, successful, and productive members of society.