Progressive Education

I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. I believe that the school must represent present life – life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground . . .
~John Dewey, "My Pedagogic Creed"


Part of Dewey’s brilliance, and that of Summit’s learning community during our more than 80-year history, lay in principles that are both timeless (enduring) and timely (relevant). Our progressive tradition preceded, shows the profound limits of, and extends far beyond the “factory model” (one-size-fits-all) classrooms of 20th century American schools.

At the turn of the last century, Dewey somehow landed on principles that have endured, that hold true today, and that take into account what we know today about how children learn: cognitively, socially and neurologically.

Dewey wrote extensively about pedagogy (the art and science of teaching and learning); the importance of honoring and embracing each child in the context of a community of learners; the value of finding and pursuing our passions; and the fundamental obligation we have to inspire in our students a sense of civic duty—of making the world a better place by engaging in work that matters.

These 9 principles represent the roots of our progressive tradition—a firm foundation which both grounds and extends the reach of each and every Summit student and educator.

Whole Child
: Our educators are concerned with helping children become not only lifelong learners but good people.

Deep Understanding: Facts and skills matter most in a context and for a purpose, with curriculum organized around meaningful problems, projects and questions.

Community: Children learn with and from one another and educators in a caring community. We believe that children learn best from those they love and respect and by whom they are loved and respected.

Active Learning: Students formulate questions, seek out and create answers, think through possibilities and evaluate how successful they are.

Social Justice: Children have the opportunity to learn about and put into action a commitment to diversity and to improving the lives of others.

Intrinsic Motivation: As educators, we ask: What’s the effect of this experience/project/assignment on students’ interest in their learning, their desire to keep reading, thinking and questioning?

Collaboration
: We focus on a “working with” rather than a “doing to” model, with an emphasis on collaborative problem solving, underlying motives, values and reasons.

Taking Children Seriously: We take our cue from the children, being particularly attentive to the unique qualities of each. We cultivate voice in our children—which requires 2 elements: an individual must [1] feel s/he has something meaningful and worthwhile to say and [2] believe others care about what s/he has to say.

We are all educators: Each and every adult in our learning community is an educator.
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