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The History of Education and Progressivism Essay

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Updated: Mar 17th, 2022

Forces on education

Medieval tradition

Medieval tradition was characterized by cheerless institutions where only grammar and religion were taught. Monasteries and cathedral schools were the chief institutions where learning took place. Medieval tradition was characterized by theology and a great number of people within the society were not taken care of in terms of education. This type of learning however provided a different dimension of life as compared to traditional ways and helped in the establishment of medieval learning institutions.

It was further characterized by teaching strong belief in religion and superstitions (Pulliam and Van Patten, 2007, p.20). An example is the introduction of teachings of Thomas Aquinas which provided scholars in various fields hence considered an improvement from the middle age education system.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance began in Italy in the 14th century before spreading all over Europe. It is defined as the rebirth of learning. This type of education focussed on the ideals expressed within the books found in the ancient Greece. It shifted learning from religious point of view to secular. Also this system allowed all ages to be taught from children to youths with the curriculum based on the study of Greek and Roman literature.

It led to the inclusion of physical education within the curriculum as a subject. This era saw the development of social structure, economics, and philosophy within the education sector which led to emergence of great interest in books by the majority. It made the culture of reading interesting and popular within the society (Pulliam and Van Patten, 2007, p. 21).

Scientific Thinking

Scientific thinking is considered to have set the stage for the study of development. This is because it focused on the importance of what researchers choose to study and give the appropriate way of conducting the study (Shavelson and Towne, 2002). Scientific thinking as applied to education helps in providing methods that assist in analyzing educational practices.

It challenged the traditional beliefs and brought about the age of reason. A good example is the Leonardo da Vinci who shifted students focus towards the importance of learning through making observations and practising experiments (Pulliam and Van Patten, 2007, pp. 21).

Religious Revolutions

Religious reformation is characterized by religious movements that created impact by reforming the entire humanity. An example can be drawn from Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five theses that affected every culture within the institutions establishing the call for total freedom in the present world.

In this stage emphasis was placed on written word which was aimed at capturing minds of the majority. These revolutions saw the emergence of educational programs that gave students ability to read Bibles in their own languages. Education was meant for all irrespective of status, those destined to joining government institutions were granted special education (Pulliam and Van Patten, 2007, pp.22-23).

Progressivism Theory of Education

This is the education theory that puts a lot of emphasis on improvement of an individual and the society in general. The theory believes that for people to live in happiness and develop the society, happiness must form the core of development. It basically believes in the use of scientific evidences to draw conclusions and provide solutions.

This theory is established on the fact that schools form part of reforms on the social and institution reform. This theory sought to abolish formalism and authoritarian methods used in schools (Pounds, 1992). It asserted that there is possibility of human beings improving the society through science and natural intelligence. The belief that people are equal and no one is greater than the other could be used in education to enhance political reforms.

This theory understands the level of contribution of women and the minority within the society. A good example of progressives are people like Theodore Roosevelt who contributed to American reformation by believing that federal government had the obligation of addressing problems of modernity (Pulliam and Van Patten, 2007, p. 47).

How to increase motivation

Motivation is associated with somebody’s emotions. It is often the key point needed for achievement of results. To increase motivation first of all the student must establish a goal and work on smaller portions of that goal. It is also advisable to work things out till completion, never to procrastinate on issues. Have somebody account for the tasks accomplished and always seek help when necessary (Hutchins, 1954).

Stages of learning

The various stages of learning include; Novice which involves having brief ideas and concepts, then there is advanced stage which involves coping with real life experiences, then followed by being competent which involves having diversified knowledge on specific areas, then proficient stage that involves solving problems based on diverse experiences and finally there is the expert stage which involves full internalization of working processes and gaining more through relating to others. What counts in the contemporary society are the results based on evidence which gives new dimension for solving problems.


Hutchins, R. (1954). Great books: The Foundation of a Liberal Education. New York

Pounds, R., (1992). The development of Education in Western culture. New York: Random House

Pulliam, J. and Van Patten, J., (2007). History of education in America. Pearson Education, Inc New York

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