Progressively Worse or Traditionally Worse?

So, this post has been conceived off the back of my awareness of a book entitled ‘Progressively Worse’ by @goodbyemrhunter – in the which it seems to me, from his brief outline of it and the snippet I’ve read, that he sets out to condemn the state school system of education for being entrenched in aspects of ‘progressive education’.

Now, the purpose of this post is not to rail against his pedagogical views, although I do object to some. It is clear that this educational research fellow has done his research. Also, as I am barely an NQT just now searching for my first teaching post I feel I am not in a position to try and argue either for or against just yet as I need to embark on my journey to experience fully for myself. The purpose of this post is to sound out some thoughts I’ve been having around this topic.

It is quite clear that the author has been educated in private education and makes it known he has been educated with a traditionalist view on learning. I decided to go to his blog, , to see if I could get an understanding of his aversion to the state schools we have in this country. I came across his bio and saw this:

“Having been educated in the independent sector since the age of seven, I was shocked by the deprivation I saw as a teacher in the state sector. But it is not a material deprivation that shocked me. Half a century of ‘progressive’ ideas have left many schools deprived of the fundamentals of good schooling. The need for classroom discipline is derided, the importance of school ethos is ignored, and any belief in the love of learning is non-existent.”

Now, I have been to and worked in 6 state schools during my initial teacher training, all state schools. As far as I have understood, the three fundamentals that are cited here (discipline, ethos and love of learning) are all things I have found the schools I’ve been in have valued. Admittedly some were much better than others at conveying those fundamentals, but could the same not be said of some private schools compared to others?

I get the feeling that in the world of such divisive opinions, state schools and private schools have stereotypes of each other.

State School stereotypes of ‘Traditional Private’ schools:



… learning involves looking in textbooks and copying down information in neatest fountain pen.

Private School stereotypes of ‘Progressive State’ schools


… and just a general apathy of learning from the children.

Now of course, in some of the respective schools the stereotypes may be all too real, and that’s down to those individual schools. However, I myself was educated in a state school and I have been instilled with a love of learning, as have many people I know.

It seems to me from my perspective that both education systems have their success stories and it may be worth looking at the best examples of each to truly compare educational perspectives than the worst of one and the best of another.

photo credit: HistoryInPhotos via photopin cc

photo credit: NeenahHistory via photopin cc

photo credit: BBC Waterloo Road


One thought on “Progressively Worse or Traditionally Worse?

  1. As a former public school teacher, I must chime in here. I think opinions vary like you say based on biased opinions: public vs private.

    Having said that, discipline is the number one issue I had in my teaching career. It is NEVER the student’s fault according to many, not all, parents.

    The second problem is teaching to the test. That is where private has an edge. In our state, the test is called “Teacher Accountability.”

    It does not matter whether Little Johnny tried on the test or played “connect the dots,” it is the teacher’s fault. Always.

    I loved teaching. I hated the stupidity of the system. My daughter graduates in a few weeks from a public school. She can read, write essays, do math, and take standardized tests. She’s an honor graduate.

    Can she balance a checkbook? No, it’s not on the mandated standards after 6th grade. Can she address an envelope to pay a bill? No, it’s not on the mandated standards after 6th grade. Yes, some places here still do not have online billing.

    Something must change. The system is broken.


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