Proponents of authoritarian, traditional models of education often misrepresent progressivism. This paper provides the proponents with ample, objective insights into the philosophy, especially as regards its student-centeredness. Student-centered educational philosophies, including progressivism, grew as a reaction to the inadequacies of the authoritarian models. Rather than developing schools as institutions when predefined knowledge bases are conveyed from instructors to learners, the philosophies motivate collaboration between the two parties to find sure solutions to the challenges facing contemporary learners (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011). The philosophies include progressivism, existentialism as well as social re-constructionism. Progressivism is learner-centered since it supports learners to learn via experience or by doing, pursue solutions to given questions via critical thinking along with problem-solving, and remain motivated intrinsically.
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First, progressivism is learner-centered given that it markedly supports learners to learn via experience experiential learning. It stresses experiential learning by students. Progressive learning centers, or schools, offer learners opportunities to learn through executing given tasks. The schools’ features include science laboratories, art rooms, kitchens, and workshops. Progressivists are convinced that one can only lean effectively by doing what he or she deems essential in his or her life (Huerta, 2008). They hinge the curricula they offer to learners on various key considerations, including the learners’ experiences. When they base the curricula on the experiences, schooling becomes interesting, and engaging to learners. The learners grow more and more curious over time. They attempt to cure their curiosity by practicing particular ideas. They attempt to cure the curiosity via actions and active processes that occasion particular products.
Notably, John Dewey, a distinguished progressivist, wanted learners to study via action and getting engaged in and experiencing specific processes that occasion particular end products. He desired to see learners working on projects that are hands-on, or experiential, for learning to happen as opposed to memorizing content (Huerta, 2008). Within the typical, authoritarian, traditional classroom, learners merely memorizing the information they desire to know. They lose the information over time or right after being tested on it. They do not experience the acquisition of the information. Dewey held that one needs to exercise her or his brain through critical thinking, as well as problem-solving, to result into learning. The experience of exercising brains in given ways by learners allows the brains to develop. Dewey held that, consequently, as the learners grow, the process of learning grows easier and easier (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011).
After learning in and experiencing the kind of school that Dewey idealized, learners would be prepared for the actual world experiences, including the commonplace challenges that individuals experience. The challenges include balancing checkbooks, making meals, changing tires, losing jacket buttons or grave ones like the demise of a loved one. The progressive school idealized by Dewey offers experiential, or hands-on, unending learning. The school stems from pragmatic thought rather than hypothetical speculation. Individuals live their way into the thought. The school is pragmatic as well since it offers learners platforms to experience their ideas in action prior to having beliefs in them. The learners develop highly practical, or pragmatic, attitudes.
According to pragmatic ontology, reality defines the daily, personal experience’s realm. Consequently, every learner has unique life experiences. Every learner has a unique perception of reality. With respect to truth, the ontology’s perspective is that every idea ought to undergo testing for its utility. If particular ideas function practically, then they can be accepted, utilized, and deemed to represent truth. The ideas can be experienced! If particular ideas fail to work, pragmatists get rid of them, learn from their experiences, and focus their efforts on experiencing new things. Pragmatists stress on student teams or groups in learning. That is rational since several learners may be keen on finding solutions to a single problem. When the learners work as a team towards the solution, they socialize with each other. Each of the learners knows through living, or experience, how to collaborate with persons from diverse backgrounds. That experience serves the learners well in the days ahead when they work with others, for instance at their workplaces.
Second, progressivism is learner-centered given that it markedly supports learners to be intrinsically motivated when learning (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011). The learners are dissuaded from rote memorization since they do not take their actions as inherently valuable. In teacher-centered learning contexts, learners merely take the information tendered to them by their instructors at face value and put efforts to realize extrinsic outcomes only. That often leads to the resenting of schooling by the learners since they lack the intrinsic motivation they need to learn. Notably, the motivation can be developed via the creation of learning centers or spaces that learners yearn to be present in.
Third, progressivism is learner-centered given that it markedly supports learners to utilize the SM (scientific method). The SM involves finding answers to given questions via critical thinking along with problem-solving. In progressivist schools, instructors expect learners to seek answers to given questions via critical thinking along with problem-solving. The learners are discouraged from getting answers from the extant literature, including books. Dewey stressed on the use of the SM by learners (Huerta, 2008; Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011). He projected the SM as an indiscriminate procedure for solving problems. When learners use it, they establish what functions well in particular situations. They establish what functions well in particular situations by asking questions, exploring, and studying extant systems. Unlike in the traditional, instructor-centered classroom, in the progressivist classroom, learners are not required to call to mind facts.
Calling to mind given facts offers learners no or highly restricted freedom to gain knowledge via inquiry, experience, and exploration. Progressivists are convinced that learners, especially the young one, are unsurprisingly curious and consequently their instructors should provide for them curriculum-related opportunities for building worldviews hinged on the SM, problem-solving as well as critical inquiry. In progressivist schools, instructors offer learners indeterminate situations that make them experience a level of uncertainty (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011). The learners articulate the problems defining the situations, and hypothesize reasonable solutions to the problems. The learners collect data as regards the hypothesized solutions, which they then test based on the data. Finally, based on the test, the learners make out the best solutions to the problems.
Progressivism focuses on the learner rather than the instructor. There are various reasons why progressivism is deemed learner-centered. First, it markedly supports learners to learn via experience experiential learning. Progressivists have the conviction that one can only lean effectively by doing what he or she deems essential in his or her life. Second, it markedly supports learners to be intrinsically motivated when learning. Third, it markedly supports learners to utilize the SM. progressivist schools offer learners indeterminate situations that move them towards utilizing the SM and perceiving themselves as the core focus of the learning process.
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