Publication Date

1999

Abstract

Progressive education was originated by educator John Dewey early in this century and has, since then, been applied in many classrooms. Towards the end of this century, progressive education has undergone much criticism by contemporary educators, historians and activists. According to them, progressive education had to be more than a new way of learning and teaching. In order to have students and teachers break away from traditional memorization processes of glorified names and dates, the progressive classroom needs to question the dominant ideology in the United States capitalist society. It is in this ideology that these names and dates survive. These contemporary educators correctly articulated that, out of the ideological bowl of the ruling class, aspects of our daily lives are manipulated and spoon-fed to society and institutions. This includes the curriculum for the social sciences. By continuously teaching this supremacist ideology without critically analyzing it, teachers and students only further embrace a bourgeois and Eurocentric world perspective. However, there is an alternative educational theory that needs to be included: praxis teaches to identify social inequalities to build a more equitable grounding between people. In using data from a survey sent to one hundred forty-seven Vermont teachers in grades One through Twelve as well as the results from semi-structured conversations with Brattleboro, Vermont teachers in grades One through college level, this project answers the following question: "Where does the concept of praxis stand in developing progressive curriculum materials?" Conclusions show that progressive education still does not question enough in whose interest curriculum materials in the social sciences are prepared and taught. The more time that goes by, the more urgent it is to look seriously at praxis in order to build a more welcoming classroom in which all participants will learn to feed all people.

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