Progressive VS Traditional


Back when I was studying Family Life and Child Development, I remember avidly listening when our teacher presented us with a table to differentiate the various teaching philosophies and methods. Before that class, I didn’t even know there were different kinds as most of us studied in more traditional set ups. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other and these two are not the only ones we practice here in the Philippines. For the many parents who ask, I’ve made a table to summarize the differences based on what we also try to practice in our preschool.


traditional Progressive

(in our School)

Role of Teacher Teacher is the Authority Teacher Facilitates
Class Size Large Small
Instruction Direct from Teacher or prescribed books Experiential, self discovery, from a variety of sources, Individualized according to child’s unique strengths
Role of Child Learn from Teacher, Receiver of Information Learn with Teacher, can also Teach/ Mentor others, can Shape the lessons in class
Focus Academic Skills Balance Academic and Social Skills, Emphasis on Socio-Emotional Development
Curriculum Isolated, distinct subject areas Holistic, Integrated, With respect to the different Developmental Domains
Methods Through worksheets, drills Through songs, charts, experiments, group works, hands on activities
Assessment Homework, Quizzes, Written Exams Portfolios, Projects, One on One assessment based on developmental milestones

Set Up

Rows of desks and chairs

Different Learning Areas


We practice a lot of the progressive methods in our preschool because I feel such personalized learning works for a lot of younger children. However, I also appreciate many things from the traditional camp such as the discipline of meeting deadlines and the initiative gained from reading on your own when you miss a lesson. I think, at least for me, it will always be a fit between child and school. Some thrive in progressive set ups while others enjoy the rigidity of traditional schools. At the end of the day, I feel the different philosophies and teaching methods have both their pros and cons. To decide on what is best for your child and family, one must think about family dynamics and the purpose you have for sending your child to school. Know your child and decide based on what he or she needs rather than what you’ve set your mind to.

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