90 Years of Progressive Education

BETA.Bush School_90thAnnLogo_4.0Each day that I spend around The Bush School, I gain a better sense of our school’s distinctive culture and character.  Through conversations with colleagues, parents, alumni, and board members a common theme continues to emerge.  The Bush School is a place of inquiry, imagination, innovation, and infinite possibilities.  In addition to my meetings, I have spent time reading about and studying the school’s rich history and traditions.   I am struck by how groundbreaking Helen Bush’s educational philosophy was in 1924. Mrs. Bush’s belief in the John Dewey principle of ‘learning by doing’ was indeed progressive at a time when pedagogy favored rote learning and a standardize approach to teaching.

In 2014, this precept is ubiquitous in educational settings as many schools espouse experiential education as a core tenet of their mission. We know that students learn and develop best in authentic learning environments, whether through outdoor pursuits, civic participation, artistic creation and expression, athletic challenge, or inquiry-based activities. These practices have been fostered and promoted at The Bush School for nine decades. As a result, our students have come to develop a love for learning that is meaningful and enduring.

In The Bush School: The First 75 Years, a historical account of the school’s founding and a tribute to the individuals who helped to build our school and ensure its success, Sis Pease ’41 captures the essence of my conversations and observations over the past few weeks. She writes, “a prevailing spirit of optimism, hope, and bold plans for tomorrow guides the expectation that The Bush School will be very much part of a new progressive period.”

I share Sis’ enthusiasm about our future, and I am eager to be a part of re-envisioning our progressive learning community.