More than 100 years ago, certain educators began to question the classical model of teaching in which students received instruction in such topics as Greek, Latin, and philosophy. They developed a new model that emphasized understanding, not just memorization. The students’ own experience and interests moved to the forefront and skills were embedded in meaningful work. The philosophy was labeled “progressive” because it did not view education as a privilege for the elite class. Educators such as Maria Montessori and Francis Parker felt that all children were capable of and deserved to be educated. The philosophy celebrated creativity and focused on problem solving in the real world. Themes and projects centered on children’s interests became the work of the classroom. Textbooks were supplemented by a wide array of resources. The goal was to create citizens who knew how to learn and act—not just students who were prepared for the specialized work of the university.

In Action 

Prairie Creek teachers remain committed to preparing children to be citizens of a changing world. We teach children how to question and how to find answers to those questions. We develop classroom communities in which care and kindness trump competition. We believe strongly that being able to ace a multiple choice test is not the goal of education. Students in our classes do real work that has intrinsic value. We nurture the natural curiosity and creativity of our students, and hone those skills so that our students become effective researchers and problem solvers. We maintain small classrooms in which the individual contribution of each child is important. Children of different ages and skills work together and learn from each other. The community is stronger than the individual.