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Q and A: Can the Traditional and Progressive Philosophies be combined?

This is a post I owe one of our readers who asked this question in one of her comments.

So is it possible to combine Traditional and Progressive? Yes and No.

In this post, I’ll outline areas where a Traditional School can use Progressive approaches.

Activities. Traditional schools can be more progressive in their activities if they have more hands-on and experiential activities added to the paper-and-pencil worksheets that they’re known for. For example, if your subject is the Weather, why not have an exposure trip to PAGASA to compliment the information found in the Science textbook?

Parent-School relationship. One of my pet peeves when my daughter attended an all-girl traditional school, was during the PTC the teacher had to look at her record book to even REMEMBER who my daughter was! Also, the teacher would narrate a scripted paragraph that I felt was also said to the parent that came before me. Traditional schools can be more progressive if they attempt to know their students in a more personal level (but with a class of 45, how is this possible?!).

Classroom Management. Since Traditional schools have big classes (45 as an average), it would be good to have small group activities aside from the big group activities. This means dividing the class to smaller groups in order for the teacher to interact with each small group for a more focused discussion and activity. Groups can be divided by skill level, by kind of activity, etc.

Tests. The usual tests are multiple choice, fill in the blanks, matching, etc. These tests need little critical thinking skills. Open-ended questions should also be asked to find the opinion, perspective and total understanding of the student. For example, if the topic in Social Studies is about Elections and the Presidency, the teacher may narrate the platform of a particular president then ask questions such as “Based on our Social Studies lesson on the Qualities of a Good President, will you vote for this candidate? Why or why not?” Not only does the teacher see if the students understood the lesson but also his opinion on the subject.

Philosophy. Here’s the tough one. A traditional school is a traditional school and a progressive school is a progressive school. No matter how the grey areas meet like in the items mentioned above, the philosophy should be consistent.

So is it possible? It’s possible to adapt some approaches of progressive education in a traditional setting but as mentioned in the Philosophy part of this post, the philosophy should always be consistent. If not, the school would look like the picture I posted on top.

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