Progressive Schooling

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Progressive Schooling

A progressive school is kind of hard to define. If you talk to ten different educators, you'll hear ten different opinions. It is a school where you try to keep in balance the whole person; which is one tries to the body, the mind and the spirit. Even in educating the mind -- All schools say this is what their primary responsibility is. In a progressive school, you want the students to challenge the teacher, to ask questions, to explore roads that are not the main highways, but are maybe of interest to that particular student. You follow the interests of the student. In terms of the body, you are not just preparing kids to play football or basketball, but providing opportunities for full physical development, for nutrition. That may including hiking or meditation. You are a little bit outside of the box in terms of your physical education. In terms of the spirit, that gets very tricky. In public schools there is this separation between church and state. In a good progressive school, you ask questions about spiritual values. You are concerned about that. You are concerned that your graduates graduate with caring about other people. In a good progressive school, there will be a good community service program where your students will participate in community service. Those are just a few things about what progressive schooling is all about.

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Paul Cummins, PhD

Educator & Author

Dr. Paul Cummins, President and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE), received his bachelor of arts from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California.  In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and built it into one of Los Angeles’s most successful educational institutions and a national model for innovative, independent schools. 

In 1995, Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. The first venture was New Roads School, a diverse, K-12 independent school in Santa Monica that has a deep commitment to social justice. New Roads devotes 40% of its tuition budget to need-based student financial aid, guaranteeing access to students from a wide socioeconomic array. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk.

Cummins has published four books on education, including Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education (2004), and Two Americas, Two Educations: Funding Quality Schools for all Students (2007), both published by Red Hen Press. His most recent book of essays, Why Poetry? Reflections on Poetry, Writing and Culture, was published in 2009 by Xlibris, in addition to two volumes of his poetry and two children's books published in recent years. He is currently finishing Confessions of a Headmaster: My Pursuit of Joy and Justice in Education (forthcoming from Red Hen Press).

Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.

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