History of Progressivism

Many of the basic ideas about natural learning talked about in this book have been around for a long time. Various members of the Progressive Movement, in particular, proposed that education should respect natural learning, not fight against it. They may not have used those words, but they had the same ideas about the importance of starting with students' interests and letting students learn to do instead of making them listen.

The Progressive Movement was diverse; its members held varied and sometimes even contradictory beliefs. The thread that held it together was a unifying concern for the problems caused by the growth of industrialization and the expansion of the cities in America. The movement affected the way Americans viewed the nature of society, the role of government, and the goals of the education system.

As education historian Lawrence A. Cremin points out, the education branch of this movement was tied together by a simple message: "Progressivism implied the radical faith that culture could be democratized without being vulgarized."

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