American public education was originally designed to instill obedience and respect for authority. As Howard Zinn has said, “The guardians of traditional education prefer that education simply prepare the next generation to take its proper place in the old order, not to question that order.” Progressive educators believed instead that we should educate students to become skeptical, critical thinkers who respectfully question authority.
Our approach to teacher preparation is informed by the tenets of progressive pedagogy, which simultaneously fosters and demands a more sophisticated intellectual capacity from teachers. The progressive teacher’s role is not to share his or her own best thinking in an entertaining way, but to help students learn to do their best thinking. This is difficult, takes longer to master, and requires a serious commitment of time and energy.