About Progressive education

What is Progressive education?

Progressive education;

  • emphasises personal relationships in order to build healthy individuals who learn together in a community
  • is inclusive and has a celebratory attitude towards the gifts learners bring
  • what learners are able to do and know about themselves becomes central to the learning process; it is a learner-directed and/or managed approach
  • teacher intervention may be minimal at certain times and in certain areas 
  • teaching is usually in context, using concrete materials and the principles of holistic and conceptual learning, supporting any specific learning the child needs or desires, rather than behavioral approaches such as drills and repetitive rote learning for their own sake

For a detailed explanation of the 8 core values of progressive education, please read the article 'Progressive Education: Why It’s Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find' by Alfie Kohn. See also Wikipedia: Progressive Education.

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The Australasian Democratic Education Community (ADEC) is for all those interested and involved in progressive, alternative and democratic education.

It is for learners and educators regardless of age. It is for all in the community who wish to share and extend their experience and knowledge of such education. AAPAE provides a forum for discussion, debate, and research, a network for sharing and support and an incorporated association of likeminded individuals, schools, learning centres and education institutions working together on common issues.


The International Democratic Education Network (IDEN) is a network of schools, organisations and individuals all round the world that uphold ideals that include:

  • respect and trust for children
  • equality of status of children and adults
  • shared responsibility
  • freedom of choice of activity
  • democratic governance by children and staff together, without reference to any supposedly superior guide or system.

Members are self-selected. Their names and addresses and a minimal description appear in a data-base on the web site, and they receive two or three newsletters a year, mainly giving information about recent and future IDECs.


AERO's mission is to help create an education revolution to make student-centered alternatives available to everyone.

Towards this end, AERO provides information, resources and guidance to families, schools and organizations regarding their educational choices. AERO disseminates information internationally on topics such as: homeschooling, public and private alternative schools, and charter schools. AERO's long-term goal is to become a more effective catalyst for educational change by providing books, magazines, conferences, online courses, consultations, support groups, free videos, and organizational information and seminars in the field of alternative education.


The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) believes in an education that allows students and teachers to discover and expand their capacity and joy for learning and to thrive through active participation in vibrant learning communities.

Further reading

Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behaviour, education, and parenting. He is an outspoken critic on the fixation with grades and test results in education. http://www.alfiekohn.org



Sir Ken Robinson

World-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award, Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. http://sirkenrobinson.com/

Video talks:

John Dewey

John Dewey was a leading intellectual of his period and a major advocate of progressive education, educational and social reform.


  • 'Experience and Education'
  • 'Democracy and Education'

John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto is a retired school teacher with nearly 30 years experience in the classroom, named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions and author of several books on education. He is an activist critical of compulsory schooling and active supporter of unschooling.



John Holt

John Holt (1923-1985) was a teacher and controversial education writer who advocated school reform and ultimately became one of the forces behind the homeschooling movement of the 70’s and 80’s. He wrote ten books about education and founded the magazine 'Growing Without Schooling'.


  • 'Instead of Education: Ways to Help People do Things Better'
  • 'How Children Learn and How Children Fail'


Peter Gray

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology; published articles on innovative teaching methods and alternative approaches to education.



Robin Grille

Robin Grille is a former Kinma parent, a psychologist in private practice with twenty years' experience, and a parenting educator.

A passionate speaker and social change activist, Robin's extensive research has led him to feel that improved attention to babies' and children's emotional needs is the most powerful way to move societies toward sustainability and peace.



Louise Porter

An Australian Child Psychologist with almost 30 years' experience in private practice, consulting with parents and practitioners about children's development, behaviour, and social or emotional challenges. Louise has worked in mainstream and disability agencies and lectured at Flinders University in South Australia, having spoken extensively in Australia and internationally.


Yaacov Hecht

Yaacov Hecht is an Israeli educator and worldwide pioneer of democratic education. Yaacov Hecht is an internationally distinguished leader and visionary in democratic education, learning theory, and societal change.



Other schools




South Australia


Western Australia

New Zealand

For international schools, please check out Wikipedia's List of Democratic Schools