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Defining a Progressive Educator

I have to admit that my  recent BLOGS have tended to focus on a critique of the traditionalist positions. More specifically the view that they offer a diminished pedagogy, are over reliant on very narrow science, and are heavily politicised.

So I want to offer an alternative view. Many may consider this as a false dichotomy, and maybe it is, however my own view is that traditional approaches are increasingly becoming the normed position because of the effective way that they are “pursued” in debate, as opposed, to the quality of the arguments being presented. This is causing a number in the eduBlogosphere great frustration and some to call it a day (twitter wise anyway). It seems to me that it is better constructing and engaging in debate about issues that that you feel passionate about as well as challenging that which you disagree. Perhaps the absence of a progressive identity (other than the one offered by neo-traditionalists) means that it’s more difficult for those of a progressive persuasion to argue from an identifiable position; a defence of the progressive, if you will, is what is required.

Of course, inevitably the call goes up where’s the evidence for one position or another. In the social sciences and in my view, education is a  social science, evidence is viewed differently. The traditionalist approach tends to to re-iterate one or two heavily criticised studies to the point where they almost  become a social fact . More recently the Sutton report attempted to develop a framework to approach the issue of evidence in education. It’s most notable feature was a lack of evidence. Progressive education is therefore evidence informed rather than evidence based.

So here I present ten features of progressive education based on some of the arguments I have put forward over the past year, or so, though not necessarily in the context of a progressive framework. Other can contribute their own list, or not as the case maybe.

Anyway here goes:

1) Progressive education is a social science not an art or natural science

2) The purpose of progressive education can be viewed pragmatically but it’s essential nature is critical. In other words education gives primacy to independent creative thinking based on knowledge and not knowledge as a thing in itself

3) Progressive practitioners are collaborative and outward looking

4) Progressive education is evidence informed (not evidence based) using qualitative and quantitative research methods. Research data should be grounded in practice.

5) Cognition is not based upon memory it’s holistic; social and emotional

6) Knowledge is constructed not transmitted

7) Progressive practitioners use collaborative pedagogic tools (they do not rely on causal pedagogical  relationships)

8) Pedagogical approaches are used dependent upon context not on dogmatic assumptions. Pedagogical approaches include; teacher talk, inquiry / discovery based learning and assessment but are structured within a framework of communication, instruction and supportive feedback (see the dynamic model of educational effectiveness (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2006)

9) Behaviour is negotiated but ultimately based on the premise that everyone, at whatever level they are currently at,  can work and achieve

10) Progressive education views knowledge of the world as separate to the way it is thought about but knowledge of the world, as it is, is not necessarily knowable

 

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5 thoughts on “Defining a Progressive Educator

  1. An excellent summary. I don’t see myself as progressive, more eclectic, but given this summary I would almost describe myself thus.

    Your summary is a world away from the extreme and frankly silly descriptions of progressive education put forward by neo traditionalists.

    This part of the blogpost sums up the traditionalist approach very well and it’s words will resonate with many bloggers and tweeters who have been increasingly frustrated by recent trad tactics.

    “The traditionalist approach tends to to re-iterate one or two heavily criticised studies to the point where they almost become a social fact . More recently the Sutton report attempted to develop a framework to approach the issue of evidence in education. It’s most notable feature was a lack of evidence. Progressive education is therefore evidence informed rather than evidence based.”

    This sentence is also quite profound in this context.

    “because of the effective way that they are “pursued” in debate, as opposed, to the quality of the arguments being presented.”

    It is sometimes quite astonishing the extent to which staunch trads will criticise the quality of the arguments of others but seem completely oblivious to the poor quality of their own arguments.

    It is quite sad, the extent to which the more well known trads have started to make personal attacks on others while at the same time droning on about ad hom and tone.

    History may show that these people do in fact know all of the answers, have a monopoly on wisdom and put forward sound arguments each and every time avoiding formal and informal fallacies at all times. I somehow doubt it.

    I was never a fan of Margaret Thatcher, but I am reminded of something she said…

    “If you have tell people that you are important, you aren’t”

    These people spend much of their time telling us how important they are, enough said.

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