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Progressive education has been around for some time, beginning in the late nineteenth century. John Dewey (1859-1952) is considered an American pioneer of the Progressive Education Movement. Today, it takes many forms, from Democratic Education to alternative education such as unschooling or homeschooling. We have been thinking a lot here at Nurture Search about what Progressive Education means to us and where can we find it in action.

We recently returned from a tour of progressive schools and nursery schools in Los Angeles, USA. We also visited the RIE centre and attended a progressive education conference where we had the pleasure of meeting Katherine Ellison, author with Tom Little of Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America’s Schools.

Little and Ellison’s book centres around Tom Little’s experience of running a progressive school in California - Park Day School. Little toured a vast range of schools, ranging from the racially diverse, inner-city schools, to the mostly white, rural, private schools of America, all of which informed Tom Little's views of the Progressive Education Movement. Our mini Progressive Education tour saw us time and time again walking into a nursery school or school and feeling instantly at home.

Children at these schools were happier and more engaged, following their own interests with supportive and mindful adults. Children were mainly out of their chairs, exploring, moving, belonging and experiencing. There was always a rug in a cosy corner or in the middle of the room to comfort and focus on strengthening a sense of community in the classroom as a natural part of the day. This is something that we are keen to draw on at our own nursery school - Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten in Worcester, UK.

Each morning we have a 'circle time' where we come together before we get our gear on and head outside. We come together again for a 'group meeting time' where we can share what we've been up to outside that morning. All of these moments, as well as our communal times such as snack times and lunch time, play a vital part in establishing, building and strengthening our community at Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten. This is at the heart of the progressive education movement. Tom Little said it best:

"Progressive Education prepares students for active participation in a democratic society, in the context of a child-centred environment, and with an enduring commitment to social justice." Tom Little