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A Progressive Education?How Childhood Changed in Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools$
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Laura Tisdall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132895

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526132901

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The ‘backlash’ against progressivism

The ‘backlash’ against progressivism

Chapter:
(p.215) 7 The ‘backlash’ against progressivism
Source:
A Progressive Education?
Author(s):

Laura Tisdall

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526132901.00013

This chapter considers the ‘backlash’ against ‘child-centred’ education in the 1970s, and questions whether education in England and Wales was ever truly progressive. This did not mean that child-centred ideas ceased to have any impact upon concepts of childhood and adolescence; instead, the child-centred remodelling of youth was increasingly internalised, divorced from its origins. The emergence of ideas such as Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward’s ‘exploding school’ recalled the earlier utopian ideals of progressives such as Neill and Russell, but, like the experimental schools that were founded in inter-war Britain, these variants ultimately failed to have much impact on mainstream education – although they were often taken as representative of a system that had failed. The impact of child-centred education upon marginalised groups – girls, ethnic minority or immigrant pupils, working-class pupils, and disabled pupils – is further considered, and it is ultimately argued that, while these groups were the most deeply affected, all children and adolescents were defined by non-utopian progressive educationalists as abnormal, seen as incomplete versions of adults despite reformers’ assertions to the contrary.

Keywords:   Race, Class, Gender, Progressive, Education

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