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Educational progressivism

Progressivists believe that education must be based on the fact that humans are social animals who learn best in real-life activities with other people. Progressivists claimed to rely on the best available scientific theories of learning. Most believed that children learned as if they were scientists, following a process similar to John Dewey's model of learning:

  1. Become aware of the problem.
  2. Define the problem.
  3. Propose hypotheses to solve it.
  4. Test the consequences of the hypotheses from one's past experience.
  5. Test the most likely solution.

Given this view of human nature, a progressivist teacher desires to provide not just reading and drill, but also real-world experiences and activities that center around the real life of the students. A typical progressivist slogan is "Learn by Doing!"

In 1957, the orbiting of Sputnik caused a panic in educational establishments as Americans and Europeans felt they had fallen behind the Soviet Union technologically. A rethinking of education theory followed that caused progressivism to fall from favor.

For a discussion of other educational phiosophies, see educational philosophies and education reform.