Progressive Education Movement

"Between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, many educational programs grew out of the American reform effort called the progressive movement and its sources in the philosophies of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Johann Pestalozzi and Friedrich Froebel. A pluralistic phenomenon, it embraced industrial training, agricultural and social education, and educational theorists' new instructional techniques. The progressives insisted that education be a continuous reconstruction of living experience, with the child the center of concern. John Dewey maintained that schools should reflect society. His Laboratory School in Chicago (1896-1904), the public schools of Gary, Indiana, and Winnetka, Illinois, and such independent schools as the Dalton School and the Lincoln School of Teachers College, Columbia, were notable progressive institutions. Progressive education gained wide acceptance in American schools in the first half of the twentieth century, and by the 1950s, after its alleged collapse, the progressive movement had effected a permanent transformation in the character of the American school. Other reform movements in education similar to, or affected by, progressive education include the Open Classroom and the reforms of Maria Montessori."1

In British Columbia, the progressive movement is associated with the 1925 Putman-Weir Survey. In this landmark report by Harold Putman and George M. Weir, progressive educational methods and programs (including junior high schools) were endorsed and encouraged. After Weir became Minister of Education in 1933, a decidedly progressive curriculum was implemented. The new curriculum was developed with the guidance of Weir's deputy, Herbert Baxter King.

The progressive creed in this province was set out in a document entitled Aims and Philosophy of Education in British Columbia. The progressive tone was also evident in pupils' report cards and the syllabus of courses like Character Education.

1The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. Copyright 1991 by Columbia University Press