Progressive Education: an Education for Life

Jul 19, 2016

With more choices about education than ever at the fingertips of parents, the responsibility of making the right one can be overwhelming. A curriculum that has been gaining significant traction recently is progressive education, which emphasizes educating the whole child — emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually in an experience-based, interdisciplinary and collaborative setting. This is done through the delivery of a rigorous system nurturing creative, independent and problem-solving talents – all increasingly critical to a successful adulthood today and for many decades to come.

Progressive education was founded in the early 20th century by John Dewey based on his philosophy of ‘learning by doing’. It became in the US owing to Lucy Sprague Mitchell who first rolled it out as part of a teacher education program at the acclaimed NY-based Bank Street College of Education, celebrating its centennial this year. Mitchell viewed education from a different perspective, focusing not only on what children needed to learn, but also how they learned, with a tailored approach that recognizes individual differences from child to child.

What sets progressive education apart is its emphasis on life-long learning. It fosters a developmental-interaction environment in which children are learning and growing through the integration of thinking, feeling, doing and reflecting. For example, on a typical day in a progressive school classroom, children may be taken on a field trip and will be guided to interpret the experience through their eyes upon their return to the classroom.

The experience comes, first and then the students take their understanding of that, reflect on it and expand on it, which is quite different to the traditional approach to education where the child would learn all the facts first and then go on a field trip to simply observe and validate what they have learned.

For the first time, children in the UAE will now have access to a progressive education curriculum through a partnership between Bank Street and the Scholars International Group. The collaboration will be implemented at the brand new Clarion school, which opens its doors in September 2016. The school will be staffed with a high caliber team of teachers, all holding Masters degrees, and qualified educational staff.

In alignment with the UAE’s drive for innovation, progressive education offers a lifelong love of learning, creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. Empowered with confidence, a problem-solving mindset, and a spirit of corporate citizenship, Clarion graduates are slated to make a meaningful impact on their societies like many of those who graduated before them from Bank Street in the US.

Progressive education offers parents an important curriculum choice through which their children will receive a challenging, engaging, supportive and collaborative educational program. More importantly, it offers children a head start on life with an education system that can meet the rapidly changing demands for knowledge to attain and sustain growth in an increasingly complex and competitive world.

Author: Dr. Kandace Williams, Superintendent Clarion School


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