The Progressive Classroom: School and Society

Open—Spring

What do preschoolers at the Early Childhood Center (ECC) and Sarah Lawrence College students have in common? In an age when two-year olds use computerized toys at home, what should they be doing at school? In what ways is the progressive education movement that characterized the early 20th century relevant today? In this course, we will examine the similarities in pedagogic philosophy and practice between progressive education at the preschool, primary, and secondary school and college levels. Readings will range from the underpinnings of progressive education in the work of John Dewey and others to historical material about Sarah Lawrence, the ECC and other progressive educational experiments and to contemporary discussions of what roles education can and should serve in the 21st century. All students will spend two full mornings or afternoons a week doing field work in classrooms at the ECC, becoming astute observers of both children and teaching practice, reflecting on their own educational experiences, and developing individual conference projects that delve further into the questions and themes of the course.