In the early 1900’s, the Progressive Education Association greatly influenced the shape of 20th Century education in America.
“In 1919, at an organizational meeting in Washington, D.C., the Board of Trustees of the newly founded Progressive Education Association (PEA) adopted its founding tenets. For three decades, these principles and the progressive education movement would fundamentally alter the course of American education.”
– Tom Little, “21st Century Learning and Progressive Education: An Intersection” International Journal of Progressive Education, Volume 8 Number 3, 2012 © 2012 INASED
In 2005, a group of educators formed a committee to revive the Network of Progressive Educators, which had been inactive since the early 1990’s. The group formed the Progressive Education Network (PEN), and in 2009 we incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 charitable, non-profit organization.
The history of the association in its earlier form is chronicled in Lawrence Cremin’s The Transformation of the Schools (1965), and Patricia Albjerg Graham’s Progressive Education: From Arcady to Academe – A History of the Progressive Education Association (1967).
We owe inspiration to the early pioneers of the progressive education movement, many of whom founded schools which are still in operation today (i.e. John Dewey – The Lab School in Chicago, IL; Lucy Sprague Mitchell – The Bank Street School in New York City; Francis Wayland Parker – The Francis W. Parker School Chicago, IL; Caroline Pratt – City & Country School in New York City; Carleton Washburne – Winnetka Public Schools).
Our philosophical underpinnings can be traced to the writings of John Amos Comenius, Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Friedrich Froebel, and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.
In 2004 and 2005, The School in Rose Valley, PA, celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary by hosting a two-part national conference, Progressive Education in the 21st Century. Near the end of the conference, a group of seven educators rallied to a call-to-action to revive the Network of Progressive Educators, which had been inactive since the early 1990’s.
As a result of the committee’s efforts, the Progressive Education Network (PEN) was formed, and in 2009 was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 charitable, non-profit organization.
The group hosted the organization’s first national conference in San Francisco in 2007 with repayable seed monies from schools and personal funds. Each conference was produced by various groups of individuals in a variety of settings. Conferences followed in DC, Chicago, and LA, with attendance numbers growing from 250 to 950.
The foundation of this initial vision endures today: “The Progressive Education Network exists to herald and promote the vision of progressive education on a national basis, while providing opportunities for educators to connect, support, and learn from one another.”
PEN is dedicated to supporting teachers to engage in joyful and meaningful learning spaces, with a passionate commitment to democracy in action, diversity, and social justice in a child-centered environment.