This will be the final post here; I am working toward moving my evolving spiel to a new venue, "Not Your Father's School." My hope is to unify some of my thinking, which has been split between this blog and "Admirable Faculties."
Part of my desire is to lose the specific focus on teaching and professional culture here and what I am feeling are my overly restrictive ties to what I have been calling the New Progressivism over there. There is something new going on in independent schools, and it has progressive roots, and it's very much tied to the way we organize and manage schools and their curricula, but I'd like a fresh start. (And where it is not going on, I believe pretty deeply that it should be, unless there is something equally serious and forward-thinking and thorough being offered as an alternative.)
I'm still very pleased by the idea of the New Progressivism, but I've had occasion over the last year and a half to see the many ways in which the P word preconditions and distorts many people's understanding of the kind of education--the schools, their culture, the teaching--that the New Progressivism represents. It is not groovy and go-with-the-flow, it is not education conducted toward the establishment of moral relativism, and it is not "free" or "alternative." Being student-centered these days requires a pretty sophisticated understanding of social, physical, and cognitive development, not just a desire to be kids' best friend or to let them follow their bliss. Creating New Progressive curriculum requires a wealth of detailed and specific knowledge of the criteria by which effective and engaging learning experiences are designed and of the ways that student learning can be assessed. It requires standards and a deeply held set of core values and core aims. It is intentional, and it is very, very hard work; it can even require students to engage in very, very hard--but worthy--work.
So I'm shedding the P word and taking a deep breath. I'm hoping to find the concepts and words to combine the threads of my thinking about education in the direction of helping independent school folks of all stripes consider what the next generation of schools--those schools that are not our father's schools--ought to look like and how they ought to go about the business of educating.