Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Progressive vs. Traditional Schools

For several years now, progressive schools has been multiplying all over Metro Manila. Parents have been enrolling their children to these schools rather than putting their children to traditional ones. How can we differentiate one school from another? Do children really benefit from these schools compared from traditional ones which were dominant during 1970's-1990's?

I have limited knowledge with regards to these types of schools but basing on the experience of my nephews and nieces, i sometimes wonder if the teaching techniques in progressive schools are effective compared to traditional ones.

My nephews and nieces are studying from a school founded by a German named Rudolf Steiner. The school, i think, was established during the 1990's. It is a co-ed school but students are limited to just 15-20 children per teacher. Subjects are taught in months basis, for example; math and science are taught for 2-3 months straight, no other subjects. For the next months, english, grammar, foreign language for another 2-3 months. A student's teacher in grade 1 will be his or her teacher until grade 6. As i mentioned, foreign language is taught as early as grade 2, musical instruments like recorder (flute), violin, guitar, etc. are also taught. Kids are exposed to 2-4 days of outdoor camping (outside manila) as early as grade 3.

Other non-traditional activities: Kids are highly discouraged to watch TV (even cartoons) and play video games. Kids are not allowed in school to wear clothes, shoes even bags to have cartoon characters printed on it. Milk products (except fresh milk) are discouraged to be taken even for toddlers, they only recommend breastfeeding up to 2 years then straight to solid foods, fruits and vegetables. Formula milk is a no-no.

Reading comprehension is not pressured up to grade 4, they believe that children will learn how to read when they are ready and there is no need to initialize reading. You can just imagine my mom's (my nephews' grandmother) frustration in teaching her grandchildren how to read since she still believes traditional school is better than progressive ones. So, since reading is not a priority, spelling and writing skills are all put behind.

There are a lot of differences between these two types of schools. What progressive schools offer are totally different from their traditional counterparts and they believe that children should not be too pressured to learn in their early years. Progressive schools still believe play is an essential part of learning and they don't believe that kids as early as grades 1 and 2 should be burden by advanced mathematical problems and science concepts. For them learning should be fun and the last thing they want is for their students to give in to school pressures, requirements and exams.


Jan said...

I was schooled the traditional way. I don't think they botched the job or anything, but I'm fascinated with the features of progressive teaching methods you enumerated.

But my family would have not approved of it - they expect you to be able to write and read even though you're just a couple of months into Grade 1.

Jeff said...

Hi, M. You've got very interesting thoughts on education. I guess becoming parents really makes us start to think about this more.

Jen & I are planning to start homeschooling Jed this June. We will be using the School of Tomorrow system (formerly known as Accelerated Christian Education).

This system uses PACES and is individualized. You might take interest in it, too.

School of Tomorrow

Jan said...

Hi lemuel,

What's your username in twitter? I'd like to add you, can you tell me yours? I'm at http://twitter.com/jan_geronimo.


Dee said...

I went thru traditional schooling too. It worked fine, I think. But some points about progressive schooling are quite interesting, though. It sure would be something to see how progressive schooling would fare in a couple of years. :D

J. said...

Hi M! We are thoroughly enjoying homeschool since we started last June. In fact, I put up yet another blog that will kind of document our journey. It's http://www.christianhomeschooler.info/

Hope you guys are doing great! We hope to get together with you sometime during the holidays. :-)