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The Purpose of Educating Our Children: A Tradtional vs. Progressive approach
Through experiential learning and the arts in a progressive rather than traditional educational environment, students will be best prepared to meet the unknown challenges which lie ahead and will be productive citizens in our democratic society.
At the turn of the 20th century, when hundreds of thousands of immigrants were arriving from Europe, America needed factory workers and new immigrants needed jobs. Our schools were then designed to train the future workforce and new Americans were eager to make a life in this new world. A century has gone by and the needs in society have changed. We are no longer seeking an education for our children so that they may become factory workers on a manual assembly line. The needs of our global economy and our own expectations have changed. Of course we want our children to be productive members of society, but what does this mean in the 21st century? We need individuals who are balanced, have high self-esteem, are creative, able to problem solve and can utilize their strengths and find purpose in their work. Unfortunately, curriculum and teaching has changed very little. We are still preparing our students for a workforce and life, which no longer exists. The traditional curriculum needs to finally be replaced by one which is progressive.
John Dewey, the leader in Progressive education during the 20th century strongly believed that in order for the United States to truly be a democracy, where each student is prepared to actively participate on a social, political and economical level in society, schools must reflect these aspirations.
Learning through painting, drama and music enhances creativity and encourages each student to problem solve and to think “outside the box.” Classes in the martial arts and movement, brings grounding and a sense of balance. The wonders of science need to be investigated through labs and experiences in order to draw conclusions and not by answering questions in a book. Through experiential learning and the arts in a progressive rather than traditional educational environment, students will be best prepared to meet the unknown challenges which lie ahead and will be productive citizens in our democratic society.
Dr. Wendy Hirsch Weiner is the founder and principal of Conservatory Prep Senior High in Davie, FL. She can be reached through the website at www.conservatoryprep.org or by phone (954) 680-5808.
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Conservatory Prep Senior High provides the creative and inquisitive learner a progressive education designed to enhance their ingenuity and intellectual curiosity, through the arts and experiential learning. By using the stage as our classroom, we encourage students and teachers to think creatively and explore diverse interests by teaching the core college-prep courses though visual art, film, theater, music and the culinary arts.