A Progressive by Any Other Name

I’m at theProgress in Progressive Education Conference at the Putney School today. I’ve been tweeting a bit- and will probably tweet more- but something that Howard Gardner said this morning is still ringing in my ears.

The fact that we call something “Progressive” or “Traditional” doesn’t make it inherently good or bad.

For lots of reasons, I’ve been thinking about this today. I’ve written before (here and elsewhere) about my struggles to wear both my Mommy hat with my Educator hat. As an educator, I don’t equivocate in my views of what is best for kids. I’m clear on my progressive/ constructivist/ inquiry-driven worldview. As a Mama, things get trickier. I have to balance all of the factors- distance, cost, friendships, curriculum, pedagogy- in order to make good school choices for my kids. I’ve spent agonizing hours wondering if the local, fairly traditional school that my kids attend is best for them.

But what if the philosophy to which a school aspires or adheres is less important than the quality of the implementation? What if we’re once again drawing false boundaries between schools, based upon labels rather than quality? What if, as Barack Obama said, “there’s more that unites us than divides us?”


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