Traditional vs. Progressive Curriculum

There are many options on how we can educate our children and the basic option is sending them to schools—schools that have curriculums that you as a parent must learn about. A curriculum is the set of programs offered by any educational institutions and they are made up of different subjects and activities that push towards a certain goal.

Currently, there are a lot of types of curriculums and most of them are not actually specifically defined. In a general sense, curriculums are divided into two types: the traditional and progressive curriculum. Due to their clear distinctions, the two curriculums are often pitted against each other hence the traditional vs. progressive issue that we are covering.

Below are points that define the two curriculums and differentiate them to help you choose the ideal one for your child.

What is a traditional curriculum?

As its name, a traditional curriculum consists of techniques that are in line with the old ways of teaching. It is what most of us had experienced during our education where we sit inside a classroom and feed off from what a teacher communicates. Lectures, use of educational materials, recitations, and homework are part of the standard systems.

Teachers are also an authoritative figure on a traditional curriculum and where most of the discovery come from. Students are expected to be more passive and there are limited chances of learning things on their own. Still, this proves to be a very effective approach as evident from humanity’s progress when it comes to science, medicine, technology, literature, and more.

Traditional curriculum is still widely utilized in America due to its tried-and-tested framework and cultural norm. The Philippines also follows suit while also completely refurbishing the curriculum to a new program called the K-12.

What is a progressive curriculum?

A progressive curriculum, on the other hand, enforces students to learn things by themselves with the teacher only acting as an active participant rather than an intervening individual. Playing outdoors, engaging with the real things instead of just reading about them in books, and mostly the non-existence of written exams and memorizations are the factors found within a progressive curriculum. The ability to discover and solve through experiments and actual dealing with the problem are the main teaching methods here.

Perhaps one of the prime examples of schools using a progressive curriculum are the kindergarten institutions found in Japan. The country is known as a progressive nation itself and it is not a surprising feat for them to start applying a progressive curriculum to their educational system. Fuji Kindergarten which was designed by Takaharu Tezuka is a kindergarten that uses expansive architecture and team building activities to enrich a student’s body and mind.

Differences of curriculums

Both curriculums have their strengths and weaknesses. Now, you might be thinking that progressive curriculum is the best thing for your child as it paves way for a more dynamic manner of learning the ways of the world but traditional curriculum also offers something more substantially academic that might be the one for your child.

Here is a quick rundown of the differences of the curriculum to know which one is more of an advantage or disadvantage for you:

Traditional curriculum:

  • Teachers are a more influential figure
  • Students are less proactive
  • Parents are outside of the learning field
  • There are uses of worksheets, lectures, and visual aids
  • Test results matter and are often the passing criteria of a program
  • Traditional curriculum is easily accessible and a quicker option

Progressive curriculum:

  • Teachers are active participants
  • There are more room for collaboration
  • Students are encouraged to use their skills
  • More exposure to the outside world
  • Play, interaction, and experience are the focus
  • Progressive curriculum is still relatively unknown with most parents frowning at the idea

Simply put, traditional curriculum is a more linear approach to learning while progressive curriculum provides more hands-on research, sudden program detours, and a chance to learn things in the field. Traditional curriculum also instills that school prepares you for life and learning is bound inside the school grounds only while progressive curriculum teaches that school is just another part of the life and that your community and your family are parts of the actual “schooling”.

With these factors, one can deduce that traditional curriculum is boring and a thing of the past while progressive curriculum provides a fresh air for the stagnant educational system. However, if this is so, then traditional curriculum should’ve been eradicated a long time, yet it is still proven to be an effective brand of education worldwide.

What curriculum should you go for?

There is no way of knowing which curriculum can ultimately be the best for your child.  What you should realize is what you are capable of providing to your child is more than enough regardless of the curriculum it holds.


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