What is the progressive education philosophy?

Learn about: What is the progressive education philosophy? from Paul Cummins, PhD,...
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What is the progressive education philosophy?

The philosophy behind a progressive school is that your goal is not just preparing your students for the future. I remember, a senior girl, came into my office when I was the headmaster at Crossroads School, and said to me, "Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow; is that all adults ever think about?" I said, "Well, what do you mean?" She said, "Well, that's all I ever hear study hard for tomorrow's test, for the SAT, so you can get into college." She said, "When do I get to enjoy today?" The philosophy of progressive education for today is that youth, childhood, adolescence, are kind of magical times in and of themselves, and they should be enjoyed as such. Students should wake up in the morning actually looking forward to going to school. I used to have to give talks to parents, saying that it's okay for the kids to come home from school happy, because that wasn't the experience of the parent. They thought something must be wrong. So attending to the emotional well-being and trying to have an atmosphere of joy, I think are two key ingredients of progressive education.

Learn about: What is the progressive education philosophy? from Paul Cummins, PhD,...


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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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