Progressive Teaching Methods

Andrew Bradford shared an article on LinkedIn about progressive teaching methods which have fueled a rise in poor discipline for bad behavior in schools.
Tom Bennet, who has been appointed to head up a task force to study behavior at schools, said that for several decades the issue has been “swept off the carpet.”
Bennet said progressivism which became popular in the1960’s and 70’s, has led to low level behavior which was left unchallenged.
There was a massive assumption that children would behave if you simply planned lessons correctly if you allowed them to do lots of independent work, projects, group work and so on, and so on, and that these teaching methods would create great behaviour, he said.
Traditional teaching methods include direct instruction, where the teacher stands at the front of the class and presents information, drilling, where pupils repeat words and phrases after the teacher, and memorization.
But, these methods have been phased out in favour of the progressive “child-entered” learning methods, where the emphasis is on keeping students interested by allowing them to learn from each other rather than exclusively taking instruction from the teacher.
Child-cantered methods have also been characterized as allowing the pupils to proceed at their own pace and making discoveries independent of the teacher.
“Progressivism rests on the idea that children want to behave and they want to learn, the teacher needs to step back and allow the child to explore their natural curiosity, which will motivate them and keep them engaged,” said Mr. Bennett.
While this approach may work well for middle class children, the same cannot be said for their peers from more disadvantaged households who may not have been taught how to behave by their parents, Mr. Bennett explained.
“Some children come to school with loads of social skills, they’ve been taken to museums, taught how to shake someone’s hand and say hello.” He said.
“But if you are used to shouting out to be heard, no one has ever taught you how to wait your turn or share, you’re not going to change suddenly in a classroom. You wouldn’t think that is wrong, you would think that is normal.”
He said that these children need “support, they need really clear boundaries, and they need to be taught good behaviour too.”
Trying to use progressive teaching techniques for all children, regardless of their background, is a “very good way to maximizing misbehaviour,” he said.
The move comes against a backdrop of rising concern about classroom disruption, with a third of state schools marked as having poor behaviour, according to Ofsted inspection reports.
Persistent disruptive behavior is the most common reason for permanent exclusions in state schools, accounting for (33.7 percent) of all permanent exclusions in 2016/17.
Mr. Bennett will focus on advising schools how to improve issues such as pupil attendance and punctuality and detention systems.

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