This seminar will trace the history of progressive education, beginning in 1890s with the emergence of several teacher’s colleges that criticized classical learning and advocated a progressive approach that emphasized a differentiated curriculum which divided students according to their likely future occupations. The seminar will trace the leading thinkers of progressive education from Herbert Spencer (social Darwinism) to G. Stanley Hall (child- centered education) to David Snedden (social efficiency, differentiated curriculum) to John Dewey (democratized education, experiential learning) to Edward L. Thorndike (mental testing) to Edward A. Ross (social efficiency, vocational education). The seminar will also trace those who sought to defend the classical curriculum and pedagogy and examine their failures and successes. Finally, the seminar will ask what benefits classical educators can derive from progressive education even as we deflect its attacks and seek to advance Christian education.
Jason R. Edwards (2015) is an associate professor of history at Grove City College. He serves as a fellow with The Center for Vision & Values as well as a Lehrman Scholar and Salvatori Fellow for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Edwards co-authored the book Ask the Professor: What Freshmen Need to Know 2.0 (TDH Communications, 2012) and has published writings in a variety of newspapers and journals including the Washington Times, University Bookman, and Touchstone. Edwards received a B.A. in history from Asbury College, his M.A. in history from the University of Kentucky, and his Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of education from the University of Kentucky.