Traditional Education & Progressive Learning – How Can Students Learn Better?

When it comes to the topic of traditional education & progressive learning, a lot of heated up debates arise. At some points, both sides are right. But if this matter is seen by a student’s perspective, which side is going to be favored?

Traditional education, as the name suggests, refers to the usual, teacher-centered education system where a class of students is headed by teachers of different courses who provide the students education of the respective subjects. In fact, this is the education system what most people are familiar with. While progressive education, which may be considered the opposite of traditional education, is a pedagogical movement which suggests that students need to have actual experiences in order to learn new things. In simpler words, progressive education emphasizes on learning by doing. Most people are not aware of progressive education and learning and the ones who are either love it or hate it.

The question that arises is, why was there felt a need of progressive education anyway?
Well, many teachers on higher-level education complain that the students don’t have a conceptual sense of subjects and their approach to learning has not been appropriate in past year. But shouldn’t it be highlighted that it is the system that demanded students to study that way? If concepts are important, then why were their 12 academic years based mostly on rote memorization and not concept building? The teachers are not to be blamed, they do the best they can in order to fulfill the system’s requirement, that’s what they are required to do and that’s what compels them to do so.

A student spends around 8 hours in school every day and still gets loads of homework. When they are learning enough in the school, why are they given so much homework? It’s like, even if a student is able to do their own homework, they still look for assignment writing help. And the work they are required to do is mostly writing based, this leads them to look for professional essay help or academicshelp. In fact, even in higher-level education students need assistance with such matters, thesis writing service and dissertation writing help are what they look for. This needs to be mentioned that if they are given education the way it should be given, their base should be made strong and they should not be needing assignment writing services to help them after all the time they spend at the school. It’s true that teachers tell their students that a good essay cannot be written in one night. But what do the standardized tests say? Write an entire essay in 45 minutes. What I think is it should not be hard to understand that this is not everyone’s cup of tea.

He that apes others will never be himself. We often hear this idiom and often tell this idiom to our youngsters, tell them to be themselves. And on the other hand, we expect them to get an A in every subject; else they won’t get admission in a good college or in a prestigious university. A child’s parents and teachers expect him or her to be the best at every subject. These expectations gradually build the fear of failure in the child’s mind, and then a time comes when this fear becomes too overwhelming that the child starts to lose self-confidence. That’s when students start getting distracted from studying, their concentration disrupts and they stop performing their best. We never feed our child more than they can digest, then why do we teach them more than they can absorb and understand? Now, do these points explain the difference between education and school?

These were some points that gave rise to the questions that why is our school education system not competitive? Why don’t a lot of students comfortably fit in a conventional classroom? And these questions gave rise to the foundation of progressive education and learning, which is the exact opposite of traditional education.

The problems of conventional education were mainly observed in children with special needs, like children with ADHD, dyslexia or autism. Yet unfortunately a lot of such children are still struggling with their education at such schools. However, they are not the only ones having trouble with this system, but also all those other students who are artistic and creative in a lot of different ways. The idea of progressive education was put forward by John Dewey who believed that a child should be involved in history, art and science in such a way that they become a vital part of the society from the very young age. He believed that schooling should be a part of a student’s life rather than just being a challenge. He and others who opted for progressive education for their children believed in active learning which made the children self-directed. Self-direction in a child eventually leads to the better future of society.


  • Collaboration and cooperation

Progressive education teaches students to collaborate and cooperate with others. In this education system, children are given such projects which build this trait in them.

  • Integrated curriculum

The curriculum mainly focuses on thematic plan. It’s mainly when a number of subjects are integrated in such a way that a child learns everything and learn how all the subjects are interconnected. It improves thinking power and decision making in children.

  • Emphasis on critical thinking

Progressive learning hugely emphasizes on critical thinking. It makes students witty and present minded. It improves their problem solving abilities and many activities are done where they are required to practically experience this.

  • Development of social skills

With the importance given to collaboration and cooperation with others, the social skills of children develop remarkably. Group projects are designed for students and social activities are arranged.

  • Multiple learning resources

Textbooks are not given the highest priority when it comes to progressive education, but multiple learning resources are introduced. Experiential and practical learning is very crucial in this education system and it guarantees lifelong learning of children.

  • Personalized learning

A student’s interest towards a particular theme is given importance. Because of integrated curriculum, students are able to judge themselves and their personal interests which helps them later in their career building.

  • Understanding the goals of learning

From a very young age students are taught why they need to learn new things. They are told that it is important because this will help them become a better person and a better part of society and how it is going to help them make the world a better place. This also builds confidence in students and also teaches them that it is not just about being successful, it’s also about doing what you do to its fullest essence.

  • Different assessment approach

Students are assessed by the evaluation of their productivity. They are given a number of projects throughout the time which are not based on standardized testing. These projects and productive tasks help the examiner understand the ability of students to think, their productivity, their social skills, their ability to cope with problems, their wit and creative skills.

  • The advantage to children with special needs

Progressive education system aids those children with special needs. This is why dyslexic and autistic children or children who have ADHD perform a lot better in progressive school system than in conventional education system.

  • Exclusively student-centered style of learning

While conventional schools follow the rigid policies of traditional education system where every student is required to do the same thing, read the same thing, learn the same thing and are judged based on the same standardized tests, progressive schools emphasize on student-centered education. The needs and the interests of students are taken care of. If children see themselves as a future doctor or an engineer or a politician or a businessperson, those children are given more exposure to this filed. If children see themselves as a dancer or a painter or an actor or an athlete, they are appreciated equally and the curriculum is designed in such a way where they are able to pour out their creative side.

We all know about the 21st century skills, their need and their importance in our lives. The problem is, we don’t prepare out children with these skills and the challenges of this modern, rapidly changing digital world but expect them to do good once they get into their practical life. Skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, present-mindedness, teamwork, communication, and social interaction; these are required for a satisfactory life in today’s world. While these skills distinct heavily from traditional education skills, they are what progressive education develops in a child as these skills are not particularly content knowledge-based. This ultimately enables students to perform better as a person in the society and also academically.

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One Comment

  1. It is a very controversial question. Erudition or creative thinking? That’s what we have to choose between, when we’re talking about these types of learning

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