“Don’t send your child to a PROGRESSIVE SCHOOL because they won’t be able to cope in college” and other Progressive School Myths..

I received a message from a mom that voiced out what a friend told her. “A friend of mine told me not to enroll my child in a progressive school because college here in the Philippines is traditional and might not be able to cope up with the system”, said her friend. She asked my opinion about it. I got some back-up for this  myth (yup, it’s a myth) from reliable and established educators and here are their answers:

“I think it’s a misnomer for parents to think that having their child establish their educational foundations in a progressive school means that they will have a hard time adjusting in college.”

“There are many students who have graduated from progressive elementary schools who have thrived in traditional high schools; and still others who have graduated from progressive high schools who have succeeded in traditional colleges and universities. What a progressive school teaches you is to be creative, open-minded, resourceful and excited about learning and new ideas. All of these attributes spell success in any educational (or working!) environment–whether you consider they traditional or progressive. I know of many progressive school alumni who have continued on to traditional high schools/colleges who know how to get along with people from all walks of life, and who still exhibit that zeal for learning new things that was imbued in them by progressive schools 🙂 There will always be a period of adjustment during that jump from progressive to traditional, but that period of adjustment is to be expected and will definitely be overcome.”



— Teacher Ani Almario, is the directress of The Raya School and the Product Development Officer of Adarna House, Inc.. She also has a Master of Arts in Education, Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Curriculum Studies in the University of the Philippines.


“I have observed that college students who come from progressive schools, are more relaxed, calm, and they are Survivors ! They are very independent , but at the same time can work 10951996_10152770604873823_2065163248_owith peers with collaboration and cooperation. Contrary to what others are saying, I find these students coping well in college life. In fact their coping skills are better than their classmates who come from traditional schools .”– Teacher Claudette Tandoc, a family life and child development specialist. She is a professor in De La Salle University Manila College of Education. She has led several trainings about various family and child issues and have served as a consultant to a number of schools in the country.


“American philosopher and educational reformist John Dewey said that “Education is not a preparation for life, but is life itself”. It is not really college that we are preparing our grade school and high school kids for. Rather, they are already expected to be applying now whatever they are learning in school, to their own families and homes, their community,  and eventually to the society. The outside world is not structured, rather, it is where individuals are “tested” on how to cope and survive using the values, knowledge, skills, talents and experiences that they have learned and imbibed.”

“There are more progressive early childhood centers compared with grade schools and highs schools in the Philippines. Some graduates of these preschools have “moved up” to traditional schools. Dr. Miriam Covar, retired Professor of the UP College of Home Economics, Dept of Family Life and Child Development conducted a study on this, and found no negative effects nor difficulties among students who transferred from a progressive school to a traditional setting.”

“On a personal note, for thirty years as an educator, I have observed that most graduates of progressive schools are happier, confident and well-adjusted individuals, who have smoothly adapted and complemented accordingly to any given situation and environment.”

10930866_10153675626109097_1841952962956262955_n— Teacher Carolyn Ronquillo, family life and child development specialist for thirty years. She spent most of these as a professor the University of the Philippines. She is currently an Associate  Professor, Dept of ECE, Woosong University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea; former Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, MarylandUSA and former Assoc Prof, UP Diliman. Founding President, Asia Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Philippine Chapter).



“Yes, it is true that most colleges if not all follow a traditional system but I really think that most parents miss this point- about being more concerned whether their child has this sustained interest and love for learning, has a good foundation in basic life skills (critical thinking, problem-solving, etc) and has developed a set of principles and values.”

“This where progressive schools come in. John Dewey (the best known proponent of Progressive Philosophy) explains that education is a “means for growth, activity, community building, reciprocity in teaching and learning, moral development and democracy).
Simply put, progressive education prepares a child for life because it enables a child to process information, rather than just memorise them; teaches a child to ask questions rather than to just say yes or no immediately; and it draws out the uniqueness of each child, rather than just letting him conform. It allows a child to understand his world by letting him experience things first-hand. It exposes a child to a community outside his family.”
“How can a child not be able to cope with a system if he has experienced learning in a meaningful way? All the more, parents should be confident that their child is ready to face a new environment (that is college) because he has been prepared to live more fully, to be proactive, to think outside the box, and to be sociable.”
 — Teacher Tanya Velasco, an early childhood educator. She graduated with a degree in Family Life and Child Development from UP Diliman and received her M.A. in Leadershi10828043_10152526495538161_4146389197665424114_op in Education from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. She has been in the field of preschool teaching for almost a decade now, and for the past 2 years, has found her love in teaching college students. She heads GURUFIRM, a training and consultancy firm on early childhood education, family life education and life-long learning.

Q and A: Are you a TRADITIONAL parent in a PROGRESSIVE school?

Alfie Kohn, one of the proponents for progressive education wrote that one of the problems of progressive education is having traditional parents in progressive schools. Since almost all parents were educated the traditional way, they usually have traditional expectations in their child’s progressive school. Why did they choose the progressive school in the first place if they are traditional in belief? Well, they THINK they believe and understand the goals of a progressive school until that nagging feeling sinks in…

Why aren’t there more homework?

Why aren’t there more quizzes and tests?

Why is my child always “playing”?

Why isn’t the school like my nephew’s school? Why isn’t my child having the same lessons as my nephew who’s in the same grade level?

And the list goes on…

It’s like the parent has morphed back to the traditional leanings even after multiple parent orientations, parent interactions, explanations and workshops. That nagging Traditional voice always come back and haunts not only the parents but the school as well.

So are you a traditional parent in a progressive school? Or are you a traditional parent thinking of putting your child in a progressive school? Help us out by posting a comment if these questions resonate in your mind. We’re setting up a Parent Education Seminar with this topic in mind and we want your help by knowing those questions that haunt you.

As an added bonus, we will choose a comment at random and give a special gift for your participation. Random choosing will be on September 15, 2010.

Thanks for your help!

Q and A: Can the Traditional and Progressive Philosophies be combined?

This is a post I owe one of our readers who asked this question in one of her comments.

So is it possible to combine Traditional and Progressive? Yes and No.

In this post, I’ll outline areas where a Traditional School can use Progressive approaches.

Activities. Traditional schools can be more progressive in their activities if they have more hands-on and experiential activities added to the paper-and-pencil worksheets that they’re known for. For example, if your subject is the Weather, why not have an exposure trip to PAGASA to compliment the information found in the Science textbook?

Parent-School relationship. One of my pet peeves when my daughter attended an all-girl traditional school, was during the PTC the teacher had to look at her record book to even REMEMBER who my daughter was! Also, the teacher would narrate a scripted paragraph that I felt was also said to the parent that came before me. Traditional schools can be more progressive if they attempt to know their students in a more personal level (but with a class of 45, how is this possible?!).

Classroom Management. Since Traditional schools have big classes (45 as an average), it would be good to have small group activities aside from the big group activities. This means dividing the class to smaller groups in order for the teacher to interact with each small group for a more focused discussion and activity. Groups can be divided by skill level, by kind of activity, etc.

Tests. The usual tests are multiple choice, fill in the blanks, matching, etc. These tests need little critical thinking skills. Open-ended questions should also be asked to find the opinion, perspective and total understanding of the student. For example, if the topic in Social Studies is about Elections and the Presidency, the teacher may narrate the platform of a particular president then ask questions such as “Based on our Social Studies lesson on the Qualities of a Good President, will you vote for this candidate? Why or why not?” Not only does the teacher see if the students understood the lesson but also his opinion on the subject.

Philosophy. Here’s the tough one. A traditional school is a traditional school and a progressive school is a progressive school. No matter how the grey areas meet like in the items mentioned above, the philosophy should be consistent.

So is it possible? It’s possible to adapt some approaches of progressive education in a traditional setting but as mentioned in the Philosophy part of this post, the philosophy should always be consistent. If not, the school would look like the picture I posted on top.

Q and A: If my child is not flourishing in a traditional school, should we jump ship?

I was at ExpoMom last Saturday and bumped into an old friend. When we got to talk about what I do, she told me that her fourth grader who attends a traditional boys school is having a hard time — his grades were dropping, he wasn’t interested in the activities, etc.

Another friend texted me about the same situation with his 9-year-old daughter who studies in an exclusive girls school. She was bored and disinterested.

Because of this, they wanted to check out a progressive school for their children. Should they jump ship?

As a progressive school advocate, my automatic answer should have been, “Yes!” However, several factors need to be considered.

It is easy to think of jumping ship when there’s another ship to jump into. Years ago, parents did not have a choice but to go to traditional schools. If their children do not do well, then there’s the guidance counselor’s office or worse, they are tagged to be “slow” or “distracted” which then evolves to the tag “lazy.”

Going to a progressive school will not be the solution. It may only be part of it. The first step is find out what’s going on with your child.

The first factor to consider is age. When you check the ages of the children in my examples, they fall in that usually ignored gap called “Tween” or Between Childhood and Teenage years.  A study that I read showed that this age-range has the least amount of literature to read about. Mainly because, theorists don’t know what to do with them.

If you think about it, even when you enter the department stores, it’s also hard to buy clothes for them. Are they in the Children section or the Teens section? If you’re confused, imagine how confused they are!

This is the time when their hormones are about to rush into their brains, when they don’t understand what’s happening to their bodies and when they suddenly like the opposite sex but don’t know what to do about it. To use their language, they’re EMO (or emotional). Activities easily bore them. People easily bore them. And since they’re in school most of the time, school bores them. They want to get a rush from something they can’t put their finger on.

My suggestion is to give them an extra-curricular activity that they really like. My friend’s son was into origami and I suggested a class in the Nihongo Center.

Furthermore, if they’re in this age, it’s hard to transfer schools in the middle of elementary. So think about another factor before jumping ship..

Electronic Life. This is the stone in every teacher’s shoe. Believe me, teachers know when their students are too doped up with TV, PSP, Wii and all other abbreviations that need to be short because students can’t spell them anymore! How can school NOT be boring when the counterpart is playing computer games on a 4×6 console which has wifi capabilities and can be brought around anywhere?

How often is your child in front of an electronic gadget? It’s time to pull him out of cyberzone when the grades are slipping.

School Curriculum. What worried me when I was talking to my friend was when they had a school meeting, a lot of parents had the same problem with their children. There is strength in numbers. I suggested that they can meet with the school and inquire if there was any change in the curriculum. I strongly believe in voicing out your issues with the school because it cultivates a better parent-school relationship and it will definitely improve the school curriculum and services.I just pray that the school has open minds and hearts to listen and to realize that changes need to be made.

There’s nothing wrong in checking out progressive schools if you feel that your child is not happy in his present school. However, before doing that, check your child first. Talk to him. Then talk to the administrator of your present school. You may find out that the ship you’re in now just needs minor repairs.

After talking with your child and your child’s school, then you can check out progressive schools. Use this blog to ask questions. Then post your stories here. Talk to you soon!

Traditional vs Progressive Schools: Q and A

When I check my blog statistics, a fair share of parents (specially moms) visit the site because they are either curious on what progressive schools are compared to traditional schools or if the school they’re considering meet the standards of what a progressive school is. I’m glad that the parents are making extra time to really understand what progressive schools are to help them decide on what school to choose for their children.

I first saw our school’s name in the forum of Mom Exchange, a Filipino website specifically designed to help Moms with various topics on motherhood. One particular post which mentioned our school’s name is a post entitled “Traditional vs. Progressive Schools”, which outlined a chart presented by Teacher Didi Manahan of Explorations School in Mandaluyong, Philippines. The post doesn’t actually pit the two types of schools but rather show the moms the difference between the two, Why? Well, because Traditional Schools in Manila is the norm while Progressive Schools are the new kids on the block. It is easier to understand something new if it is compared against something you’ve known for a long time. The post itself has gained around 600 comments since it was posted last year.

The questions of the mommies are very interesting and shows that there is still a need to spread the word about progressive education.

Do you have questions about progressive education? Do you want to know specific differences between Traditional and Progressive Schools? Do you want recommendations on schools in your area? This is our very first Q and A post. You are welcome to post your questions about progressive education in the comment section. As a token of our appreciation, every poster will get an e-book I wrote entitled “I Love to Read! — A Progressive Approach in Encouraging your Child to Read”. So hurry and ask that question!