What is Progressive Education?

Progressive Education came to life at the beginning of the 20th century. John Dewey, an influential reformer at the time, recognized that young people were losing valuable opportunities to learn the arts of democratic involvement. As an antidote, he recommended the characteristic education that Prairie Creek’s teachers and students practice today: cooperative learning, multi-age classrooms, theme-based and immersion study, real-world curricula, interactive decision-making, and a schoolwide ethos that cherishes social justice and champions community engagement. Teachers at our school strive at all times to involve students in authentic work that has real meaning. Prairie Creek Community School and other schools that follow progressive education principles share the conviction that democracy means active engagement by all citizens in the social, political, and economic decisions that affect their lives—and, in turn, that early education at its best should cultivate respect for individual abilities and for socially engaged intelligence in order to spur this kind of participation in community and public affairs.