Kinds of Schools
Progressive schools are different from so-called traditional schools. I am not being judgmental here. I am simply pointing out some differences between the two kinds of schools so that you can make an informed decision about which private schools to consider for your child.
Until the middle of the 20th-century, many schools simply taught their students facts and figures. You memorized and regurgitated information. Indeed I can remember being taught this way at Rosyln School and Westmount High School back in the '50s and '60s. That's just the way you were taught back then. All of your academic work was focused on what you could expect to be tested on in your final year-end exams. This all led inexorably to a forbidding set of examinations known as the Junior Matriculation. If you did well on that set of examinations administered at the end of Grade 11, you went off to university for more of the same.
Progressive schools by definition are schools that espouse the ideals and ideas of landmark educators and thinkers such as John Dewey and Francis Parker. At the beginning of the 20th-century, they were considered visionary by some, radical by others. The progressive curriculum was more varied and experiential. Students just didn't sit there passively listening to a teacher lecture about the material. They actually were encouraged to learn by discovery through a variety of hands-on activities. Teachers no longer had to get through a plethora of outdated materials simply to be able to say
Progressive schools are different from traditional schools. Their educational philosophies and teaching methods are different. Because there are so few progressive schools, relatively speaking - only about 75 schools call themselves progressive - most people are surprised when they discover that these schools even exist.
First, here is some of the background on the progressive movement here in the United States. The easiest way to understand how progressivism got started in this country is to realize that educators were also philosophers. For example, the Vermont native John Dewey (1859-1952) who founded the University of Chicago's Laboratory School which many consider the flagship of progressive education, was a distinguished philosopher as well as an educator. In a nutshell, Dewey knew that education was the way to make sweeping changes in society. After he had left the University of Chicago, Dewey founded The New School in New York. The foundation of Dewey's approach to education rests on three lectures he gave back in the 1890s to raise money for his Laboratory School. The School and Social Progress, the School and the Life of the Child, and Waste in Education put forth Dewey's fundamental beliefs that education needs to be an interactive process in which the child discovers the relevance of his lessons to the real world outside.
Dewey did not like the segmentation of education as it progressed from the kindergarten years to high school. He espoused a unified approach which would ultimately produce capable