What is progressive education?

San Francisco Schoolhouse was founded as a progressive school. For us, progressive education is all about putting students first.

  • Students learn by having experiences and doing things.
  • Students understand how traditional disciplines (math, English, science, history) are connected. The curriculum is designed around cross-curricular themes, skills, problems, and questions.
  • Students become innovators — they come up with new ideas and put them into practice.
  • Students learn to ask specific questions, solve challenging problems, analyze in rigorous detail, and think from an objective, critical point of view.
  • Students are encouraged to understand and learn how to take action.
  • Students collaborate with one another.
  • Students value democracy.
  • Students have different learning goals according to their different learning needs.
  • Students learn individually, in pairs, and in groups.
  • Students learn skills that will be needed in future society.
  • Students learn by serving the local community.
  • Students learn using varied learning resources.
  • Students are assessed in a variety of different ways, including projects and productions.
  • Students are prepared for life.

What is progressive teaching and learning?

  • Instruction is student-centered.
  • We are interested in learning and skills, rather than achieving high grades.
  • Students are grouped according to interest and ability rather than age.
  • Instruction is varied. It involves hands-on activities, student-led activities, and group activities. It may also involve occasional direct instruction from a teacher where students learn to listen and observe.
  • Instruction often revolves around a project-based assignment that draws on all available resources.
  • Traditional individual subjects are integrated. There is an interdisciplinary, thematic approach to learning.
  • Understanding the facts is more important than memorizing them. Being able to apply information, analyze and evaluate it, and then invent something using this information is the priority. Critical thinking is more important than getting everything correct.
  • When it comes to reporting students’ progress, many forms of communicating achievement are used. Teachers frequently write narrative evaluations about student achievement and abilities.
  • The curriculum gives significant attention to students’ social development, including how to work in a team, how to create healthy and effective interpersonal relationships, and how to grow in self-awareness.
  • We have an Adventure Day program designed to take advantage of the many incredible learning opportunities for children in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Adventure Days are carefully woven into the overall learning experience, connecting to themes developed in the classroom and extending the opportunities for exploration and experiential learning. Starting close to the school in K+1 and spiraling outward as the years progress, the children explore the wider world and their place in the community.

The Schoolhouse faculty has recently read the following books together:

Some of our favorite teaching resources are: