A progressive education?

How childhood changed in mid-twentieth-century English and Welsh schools

By Laura Tisdall

A progressive education?


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3291-8
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £96.00 (incl. VAT)
  • Published Date: October 2019
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, HISTORY / Social History, History of education, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / Social & cultural history


A Progressive Education? argues that ideas about both childhood and adolescence were transformed in English and Welsh schools after WWII. Covering the period 1918 to 1979, this book shows that by putting childhood at the centre of the history of education, we can challenge the stories we tell about how and why schooling itself changed. It has been suggested that the dominance of 'progressive' education after 1945 led to a backlash against permissive attitudes to pupils in both Western Europe and the United States. But British child-centred education, in alliance with developmental psychology, actually shaped a more restrictive and pessimistic image of childhood. Drawing on an extensive range of sources that illuminate teaching practice, from school logbooks to oral histories, this book will be crucial not only for historians and sociologists of modern Britain, but for education professionals and policy-makers.


Laura Tisdall is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in History at Queen Mary University of London


List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The rise and fall of progressive education?
1 What is a progressive education?
2 Stages of development, educational psychology and child-centred education
3 'Trendy, airy-fairy methods': teachers' resistance to progressive education
4 A half-reformed education?: teaching practice and local change
5 Primary school teachers, gender and concepts of childhood
6 Secondary school teachers, class and status
7 The 'backlash' against progressivism
Conclusion: the reinvention of childhood?

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