Progressive Education: Then and Now

Viewing a video from the 1940’s discussing progressive education, I do recognize a lot of of the language as similar to that used in discussing educational innovation today. It shows students repeating multiplication tables, states and dates from history. Instead of learning by rote and memorization, the video advocates learning by doing and learning by solving practical problems, which is what most education advocates say today. There are also a couple of mentions of preparing students for the future, because the world is changing and students need to be prepared for the world of tomorrow. This is also a common discussion in our present times; we talk about preparing students in school today for jobs that have not been invented yet. 
One of the reasons that when do not see more significant change in education, is that as Harapnuik (2014)  discussed, people are comfortable with traditional forms of education and do not see any problems with current forms of teaching and learning. This includes students, parents, teachers, administrators and politicians who have an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it mentality”. This fixed mindset is what Godin is referring to by “People who like this this stuff”, and it applies to all types of organizations from K-12 to higher education, and I have certainly seem similar within the organizations I have worked in. 
When technology and digital tools are incorporated they tend to be used in traditional settings, instead of in ways that would innovate teaching and learning . A good example is Powerpoint, there are so many innovative ways to use slide shows and presentation software now that we have student devices and cloud connectivity, but we tend to default to “the sage on the stage” type of lectures. I have rarely used Powerpoint as a teacher, because I prefer more student centered activities. However, I’ve encountered students ask me why we don’t do more Powerpoints! I find this interesting because they associate that type of activity with learning more than the other types of activities we do. I notice that a lot of teachers incorporating digital learning tools like Google Classroom, simply use it to go paperless instead of using it to change they way they teach. Going paperless gives teachers and students an opportunity to get used to new a LMS etc, but it should not be the main focus of incorporating technology. Technology integration should be used to introduce students to new forms of learning, collaborating and expression, and cultivate skills necessary for students potential paths in higher education and careers.


Danieljbmitchell (2007, July 31). Progressive Education in the 1940s. Youtube. Retrieved from

Godin, S. (2014, September 16). People who like this stuff... Seth's Blog. Retrieved from

Harapnuik, D. (2014, September 16). People who like this stuff…like this stuff. It's About Learning. Retrieved from


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