Thursday, December 5, 2013

Educational Reform for the 21st Century with 100 Year-Old Revolutionary Ideas

It is obvious to many, if not most people that there are serious flaws in our educational system. Different countries have taken various approaches toward guiding students into becoming the sorts of citizens that each country's officials desire to create. In some instances, that may mean schools and policies that put religion front and center, or limit access to education for certain demographics (such as girls). Historically, schools have been used as a means for generating a functioning working class, reinforcing dogmatic beliefs and otherwise cultivating a populace that will support the statusquo.

Between wars in the preceding century, various educators and philosophers, primarily in Europe, but also in the United States, began to think of other ways to educate the "whole child." This meant moving beyond simple rote learning and memorization and, though they may not have fully understood it yet because the science was not established, working within actual neurological developmentally appropriate stages of each child's intellectual and emotional growth. Key among the influencers of their time were three individuals who established long-lasting and somewhat overlapping movements: Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner and John Dewey.

The Pioneers of Progressive Developmental Education

These pioneering individuals were each deeply affected by the upheavals in Western society during their lifetimes. The impact of World War I, most significantly, caused many people of their time to re-evaluate human priorities and become more proactive in creating a future that was geared toward peace and individual development.