Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Bernadette Anand


In this study the author seeks to better understand the meaning of progressive education. This study does not attempt to answer the question What is progressive education?, but rather it seeks to bring the question to the forefront of the minds of fellow thoughtful, reflective, progressive educators who, like the author, struggle with the contradictions and discrepancies present among progressive educators, both historically and contemporarily. Utilizing Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's style of portraiture (1997, with J. H. Davis), the author writes in the narrative style, sharing with the reader three conversations with progressive educators whose work has informed her own educational philosophy. Themes of freedom, community, and social justice are woven throughout the portraits. A full review of relevant literature is also included, touching on these and additional themes, such as the importance of reflection, the individual versus the democratic group, and the teacher's role in the progressive classroom. While a study of this nature does not seek to provide definitive conclusions, the author does share her newfound belief, as a result of this study, in the importance of being able to articulate one's educational beliefs in an historical context, as well as to begin to reclaim or more clearly define some key terms used to describe one's educational philosophy and practices.