Progressive Education or Specificity?

To be successful, we need to be specific.

Does a one size fits all approach work in education?

As I watched the video on Progressive education from the 1940s, I saw good ideas.  This video is proof that there truly is nothing new under the sun.  Watching the video brought one question to my mind.  Does a one-size-fits-all approach work in education. I have been in education for over 25 years.  During that time, I have had the privilege to work at a low-performing school, an average performing school, and a high-performing school.  What I have found over the years is that schools vary widely and are not the same.  As a result, what works in each school will not be the same either.    

I agree with the video there are some generic techniques that we can use across the board. I believe in authentic assessment also known as projects. I believe “knowledge gained during an actual experience is best understood and longest retain.” I also believe that, “we need to prepare today’s learners for tomorrow’s challenges.”  These are ideas that I think if you ask teachers if they agree with, the majority would say, “yes.”  

The question then becomes a question of “how do we progress?”  “How” is where I believe that organizations get it wrong.  Districts will try to take a “one size fits all” approach, which might not be suitable the various students they serve.  Again, there are general goals and practices that should be utilized by all, but on each campus there should be a level of specificity.  Think of it in this manner.  All runners have the goal of crossing the finish line first. However, there are some that need to master using their energy in short ten to eleven second bursts. Others have to master using their energy at the highest level, for a longer period of time. If two schools in a district of ten schools need accelerated reader programs to help their student’s reading scores, then only their staff should be trained.  Another school in the same district might need to study how to integrate dual enrollment on campus throughout the regular school day because so many of its students are taking advanced math classes.  

The goal of any staff should be continual improvement.  Specificity will lead to schools preparing their students for the challenges they face.  Specificity will also require administrators that are forward thinking, risk takers and teachers that are are the same.  Finally, specificity will require all stakeholders to truly be involved in the educational process.


Godin, S. (2014, August 16). People who like this stuff…. Seth’s blog. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from

Harapnuik, D. (2014, September 16). People who like this stuff….like this stuff. It’s All About Learning. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from

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