PEN - Progress Education Network logo mark without text

Our Mission

Harnessing the dynamic power of progressive practice for the next generation of students, schools, and democracy.

Building on the common vision of pedagogy articulated by our forbearers in the Progressive Education Association and the Network of Progressive Educators, we are guided by a century-long legacy while enthusiastically embracing a commitment to diversity, equity and justice in our schools.

Our Vision

PEN believes that the purpose of education transcends preparation for college or career. Schools nurture citizens in an increasingly diverse democracy. Within the complexities of education theory, practice, policy, and politics, we promote a vision of progressive education for the 21st century that:

  • Engages students as active participants in their learning and in society
  • Supports teachers’ voice as experienced practitioners and growth as lifelong learners
  • Builds solidarity between progressive educators in the public and private sectors
  • Advances critical dialogue on the roles of schools in a democratic society
  • Responds to contemporary issues from a progressive educational perspective
  • Welcomes families and communities as partners in children’s learning
  • Promotes diversity, equity, and justice in our schools and society
  • Encourages progressive educators to play an active role in guiding the educational vision of our society.

“A Wonderful Lineage”

Tom Little’s talk on Progressive education, in which he tells the story of his journey to capture the spirit and practice of progressive education.

“That kind, compassionate ethos which is a part of the humanitarian spirit of progressive education…that’s what I saw when I was out there.”

- Tom Little

Educational Principles

The purpose of school expands beyond prevailing education policy and practice. Progressive educators support their students’ deep intellectual development and healthy identity formation—as developing individuals, as active learners within a school community, and as engaged citizens in the broader world.

Education must...
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amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.

Education must...

encourage the active participation of students in their learning, in their communities, and in the world.

Education must...

respond to the developmental needs of students, and focus on their social, emotional, intellectual, cognitive, cultural, and physical development.

Education must...
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honor and nurture students’ natural curiosity and innate desire to learn, fostering internal motivation and the discovery of passion and purpose.

Education must...

emerge from the interests, experiences, goals, and needs of diverse constituents, fostering empathy, communication and collaboration across difference.

Education must...

foster respectfully collaborative and critical relationships between students, educators, parents/guardians, and the community.