Is Progressive Education Obsolete: A Reconsideration

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In 1962 William Van Til's article "Is Progressive Education Obsolete?" was published in Norman Cousins' Saturday Review (Van Til, 1962). Van Til was responding to charges that the "new education," as espoused by John Dewey and his major disciples, was outmoded, even obsolete. At the time, progressive education still reeled from a decade-long series of blows dealt by an enclave of critics which included Arthur Bestor (1953), Hyman Rickover (1959), and Albert Lynd (1953). Explicit within the indictment was the apparent inability of the United States to compete economically, especially in the scientific arena, due to an array of "fads and frills" in the schools which had resulted in a soft curriculum and lower academic standards. The chief culprit in leading American education astray, according to the critics, was progressive education.