The role of the student in a Reconstructionist learning environment. The role of the student in the reconstructionist learning environment is to be an active participant. Students are encouraged to think critically about the world in which they live in and how it can be changed for the better. Students learn how to be problem solvers and decision makers. It is common for students to be challenged on their thoughts and feelings regarding topics. Acquisition of strong moral values are also encouraged through teaching. Reconstructionist encourages social activism among its students. It is not uncommon for students to learn while doing, such as organizing a food drive for the local homeless shelter. Progressivism
With the Laboratory School set the stage for the progressive education movement. Based on the view that educators, like scientists, need a place to test their ideas, Dewey's Laboratory School eventually became the most famous experimental school in the history of U.S. education, a place where thousands observed Dewey's innovations in school design, methods, and curriculum. Although the school remained under Dewey's control for only eight years and never enrolled more than 140 students (ages 3 to 13) in a single year, its influence was enormous. Dewey designed the Lab School with only one classroom but with several facilities for experiential learning: a science laboratory, an . Progressivism organizes schools around the concerns, curiosity, and real-world experiences of students. The progressive teacher facilitates learning by helping students formulate meaningful questions and devise strategies to answer those questions. Answers are not drawn from lists or even Great Books; they are discovered through real world experience. Progressivism is the educational application of a philosophy called pragmatism. According to pragmatism, the way to determine if an idea has merit is simple: test it. If the idea works in the real world, then it has merit. Both pragmatism and progressivism originated in America, the home of a very practical and pragmatic people. John Dewey refined and applied pragmatism to education, establishing what became known as progressivism. John Dewey was a reformer with a background in philosophy and psychology who taught that people learn best through social interaction in the real world. Dewey believed that because social learning had meaning, it endured. Book learning, on the other hand, was no substitute for actually doing things. Progressivisms do not believe that the mind can be disciplined through reading Great Books, rather that the mind should be trained to analyse experience thoughtfully and draw conclusions objectively. Dewey saw education as an opportunity to learn how to apply previous experiences in new ways. Dewey believed that students, facing an ever-changing world, should master the scientific method: (1) Become aware of a problem; (2) define it; (3) propose various hypotheses to solve it; (4) examine the consequences of each hypothesis in the light of previous experience; and (5) test the most likely solution. (For a biography of John Dewey, see the Hall of Fame: Profiles in Education in Chapter 4.) Dewey regarded democracy and freedom as far superior to the political ideas of earlier times. Dewey saw traditional, autocratic, teacher-cantered schools as the antithesis of democratic ideals. He viewed progressive schools as a working model of democracy. Dewey wrote: To imposition from above is opposed expression and cultivation of individuality; to external discipline is opposed free activity; to learning from texts and teachers, learning through experience; to acquisition of isolated skills and techniques by drill is opposed acquisition of them as means of attaining ends which make direct vital appeal; to preparation for a more or less remote future is op-posed making the most of the opportunities of present life; to statistics and materials is opposed acquaintance with a changing world....
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