What were the aims of the Progressive Era leaders?
Dewey, who is referred to as “the father of progressive education”, advocated for an educational system that had at its core a mission to promote democracy and create a “New Education” that reflects the ”larger changes in society” (Fraser, 2001, p. 234). This philosophy embraces a view of education that expands on the more typical and individualistic view that was limited to the student, parent, and teacher
George Counts emphasized the significant impact that society and culture has on the life and education of humans. He argued that it is ineffective and counterproductive to educate individuals without accounting for the culture in which he/she is born. Such consideration requires educators to recognize that children are a product of one society at a given place and time, and that education must strive to shape attitudes, tastes and ideas in relation to these factors.
What beliefs about education and society drove them?
Both Dewey and Counts believed that children could not be educated from an individualistic perspective, as if in a vacuum. The specific society into which a child is born as well as what kind of society its members are seeking impacts what is taught, how it is delivered, and the environment in which it all takes place.
What appeals and/or does not appeal to you and why?
These philosophies are very relevant to today’s educational system. Our current quest for multicultural education addresses these very issues. Educators recognize, or at least should recognize, that it is imperative to account for the diverse cultures that make up our student population. These considerations increase opportunities for all students to be successful. Further, they allow educators to develop a curriculum that reflects the shared goals and values of a given society.
Fraser, J. W. (2010). The School in the United States: A Documentary History. New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.