Was the Progressive Era truly "progressive?"  Is Progressive Education truly "progressive?" 

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The expectation for the response of this question is that you will need to provide an informed opinion. As for the progressive movement, you could answer it in two basic ways. Historians, naturally are not in complete agreement about the extent to which progressives realized their goals in the early Twentieth Century. Those that laud the success of the movement point to the gains that were made to abolish child labor and put young people in a compulsory school setting. Workers also were granted certain rights like collective bargaining, overtime pay, and worker's compensation. Despite these gains, critics of the progressive era reforms suggest that they did not really do very much to improve the lives of the unskilled laborer. The critics suggest that the government made these concessions in an effort to calm the atmosphere of radicalism that existed during this time. In other words, the government created these laws out of self-preservation. These are two perspectives on the degree of progress from this era.

I think that the question of progressive education is much easier to discuss. Progressive education models are student centered and involve student collaboration and involvement in planning their own experience. They often include the idea of educating the whole student and not just teaching him or her facts. While there is a lot of talk about this model being necessary to prepare students for the workplace in the 21st Century, an overwhelming majority of classrooms today are based on the traditional teacher-centered model. This is mostly true because of the push to standardize curriculum at the national level and because of the high-stakes nature of testing. Progressive education should be considered "progressive", but the efforts to institute it in America's schools should not be.

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