Progressive Education in Pre-K through 8th Grade

Progressive education is a movement dedicated to educating the whole child, with an emphasis on social justice. At Greene Hill we are guided by these meaningful principles every day. In the 1900s, during the Progressive Era of reform, socially-minded activists and educational theorists like Jane Addams and John Dewey aligned their theories of progressivism with those of earlier philosophers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Their beliefs about child development, such as the importance of active engagement and educating the whole person, have influenced the core principles of progressive education to this day.

For over 60 years, John Dewey (1859 – 1952) shaped progressive educational theory and practice. The Laboratory School in Chicago, founded with his wife, became a place for his research and observations and led to the writing of numerous articles and books. Dewey codified the way we think of progressive education today in books like “The School and Society” and “Democracy in Education”.


  • Education is a process of living, not a preparation for living.
  • Curriculum should be based on children’s interests with some structure provided by adults.
  • The most meaningful experiences for children are ones rooted in their current stage of development and the scientific method.
  • School should prepare children to be fully participatory members of a democratic society.
  • School should be equally concerned with the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of the child.