The Arc of Progressivism (Part 2)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Is there ever a conference on school reform that the word “progressive” is not uttered?

Answer is no to both questions.

At different times in the history of public schooling, progressive-inclined reformers sought to change curricular and instructional practices from traditional (or teacher-centered) to progressive (or student-centered). At these times–the 1890s-1940s, the 1960s, the 1990s, and currently–the language used, the articles and books written, and arrays of conferences held for policymakers and practitioners contained selected items chosen from a menu of progressivism’s tenets and practices (see Part 1).

After the hullabaloo of the these reforms quieted and researchers looked at the results of progressive reforms, they found that curricula had changed becoming far more connected to the lives of children and youth (e.g., social studies replaced history in many schools)–see here and here. Moreover, large-scale experiments and…

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