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What is Progressive Education?

What is Progressive Education?

Every Progressive educator starts that answer with the child . . . with child-centered and inquiry-led education, as opposed to a factory model based on efficient transmission of information. Miquon teachers meet the developmental needs of every young child so that they are able to self-initiate, ask questions (all the time!) that lead to further discovery, and, most importantly, learn to be the central force in their own education. Our curriculum is rich with the interests, identities and dreams of the students — as when our Kindergartners recently became concerned about the survival of fish in a nearby (only recently) frozen fish pond. They had many questions about the fish and their ability to withstand winter conditions. So they took a few days to research the answers, and as a result determined not only that they must change their own behavior, but that they needed to make sure other children did the same. With their teachers’ help, they took the next step and wrote letters, made drawings, prepared talks and taught the entire community why it was important to leave the ice on the pond intact.

The second principle flows from the first — learning must be real — it has to count and it has to matter to the children. When 5th and 6th Graders set the menu and prices, and then process and place orders for the bi-weekly pizza lunch sale, they learn that the attention they give to accurately calculating fractions, understanding the market environment, and following business accounting practices represents not just the difference between profit and loss, but the development of a happy and confident customer base. (Nothing is harder to deal with than a hungry seven year old who is short two slices of pepperoni.) Children must be allowed to act authentically on their environment, have a real say, and do things at school that have purpose and application in their lives. And they must receive appropriate feedback so that they learn the causal relationship between their actions and a deepening understanding of how the world works. This is what motivates students to persevere and tackle new and harder problems – and become the life-long learners we promote.

And, finally, the third principle describes teachers. They must guide the learning, provide resources, offer multiple forums for children to demonstrate what they know, and anticipate the next steps on an array of paths that their students will take. At Miquon, our teachers are experts in curriculum, emotional and cognitive developmental stages, and the multiple intelligences children bring to bear on their interactions. Miquon teachers are close observers, slow to make assumptions, and quick to build connections and to collaborate with children, because we know that relationship is the context in which all learning happens.

All of this is to say that, foremost, we respect and trust children to learn, to make and follow rules, and to act, not only in their own self interests, but for the good of the group. Every other decision at Miquon follows from there. Lately, I have been thinking that practicing Progressive education is another way of showing that we are wholeheartedly optimistic about children. We believe children are amazing in their capacity and drive to learn. They are born curious and resilient and eager to meet challenges in order to learn new things and make sense of the world. And this kind of optimism and faith in young people is rare in these days of intense supervision and anxiety. At Miquon, we provide the rich environment and guidance for children’s spectacular growth to continue and deepen and for their whole selves, bodies, minds and spirits, to thrive.

Read more about Progressive education and the particular ways in which Miquon espouses its principles.

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