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Liberal & Progressive

Philosophical Perspectives
LaBrian Carrington
Patrick Haught
Tasha Smith

Liberal Education: Overview

Aims to cultivate a free human being
Stresses development of intellectual power
of the mind
Emphasizes content mastery, knowledge
acquisition, and ability to analyze critically
Educator is viewed as expert or authority

Liberal Education: Historical Background &

Contributing Scholars
Oldest and most enduring of the major
educational philosophies
Rooted in ideas of Greek philosophers and
early scholars and theologians
John Henry Newman
Thomas Huxley

Decline in 19th century

Liberal Education: Examples/Applications

General education curriculum
Classics, English Literature, Humanities, moral

Liberal Arts colleges/universities

Standardized testing

Liberal Education: Journal Article

Imagining a Liberal Education, Storrs &
Inderbitzin (2006)
Liberal education at the core of learning
Lack of new ideas = disengagement
Modernization to the rescue

Liberal Education: Video

Progressive Education: Overview

Known to have had a greater impact upon the adult education movement in
the United States than any other school of thought (Elias and Merriam,
This movement was looked at as an inspiration in establishing theoretical
positions and practical programs (Elias and Merriam, 2005).
Progressivism has been the predominant influence in adult education since
the 1920s
Building on the thought of John Dewey and Progressive Era (1900-1920),
notions of pragmatism, education for democracy, and, above all, the
centrality of personal experience to learning, progressive education aims
to free the talents of learners In service of the larger social good

Progressive Education: Historical Background

& Contributing Scholars

- The origins of progressive education first

developed in Europe then became
predominant in the U.S.A.
- Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx,
Charles Peirce, John Dewey,Eduard
- Principles

Progressive Education: Examples/Applications

Vocational Training
Citizenship Programs
Utilitarian Training
Adult night Classes

Progressive Education: Journal Article

Philosophies of Adult Environmental Education
by: Pierre Walter
The educational focus is on the potential for personal growth through outdoor experience, including
increased self-confidence, leadership, compassion, communication skills, tolerance, problem
solving, teamwork, and the welcoming and respecting of difference.

Progressive Education: Video

Discussion Prompts
Who are you?
Liberal vs Progressive
Adult Learners will divide into two groups to complete a simple task.
Group 1 are Liberal Adult Learners (7 minutes)
Group 2 are Progressive Adult Learners (3 minutes)
This will require lots of movement and tons of fun.
Debrief on the findings from this task (10 minutes)

Elias, J. L., & Merriam, S. B. (2005). Philosophical foundations of adult education (3rd ed). Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishers.
Goldenberg, E. N. (2001). Teaching key competencies in liberal arts education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 85,
Merriam, S. B., & Brockett, R. G. (2007). The profession and practice of adult education (2nd ed). San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass
Storrs, D. A., & Inderbitzin, M. (2006). Imagining a liberal education: Critically examining the learning process through
simulation. Journal of Transformative Education, 4(175), 175-189.
Walter, P. (2009). Philosophies of Adult Environmental Education. Adult Education Quarterly: A Journal of Research And Theory,
60(1), 3-25.