Progressive Education

Calhoun's philosophy of teaching is based on three core principles that draw on the work of such educational theorists as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Eleanor Duckworth and Lucy Sprague Mitchell. In the spring of 2010, Calhoun teachers engaged in cross-divisional discussions of progressive theory and current practices to develop the principles of progressive pedagogy at Calhoun.

  • Teaching and learning begin with the needs, interests, questions and diverse life experiences of the individual student, who works to create a meaningful understanding of self, community and the world.
  • Students learn by doing: by constructing knowledge; by collaborating with administrators, faculty and staff in the real work of the school; and by engaging as citizens to promote social justice and democracy within the school and the world beyond it.
  • Teachers and students work together to create a dynamic learning community grounded in cycles of inquiry and action, and focused on the processes and the products of learning and living.

Simply stated, people learn best through experience and discovery. At Calhoun, the purpose of education is for students to develop their critical thinking skills and to become thoughtful participating citizens in their communities. Read what one of our ninth graders had to say about Progressive Education, in this blog, "A Different Perspective on Education" (May 2014) published by the Huffington Post.

Brain Research and Education

Although the Calhoun community is mindful to heed the warning of neuroscientists about "directly connecting neuroscience to classroom instruction," research does inform our teaching practices. Recent research in neuroscience redefines the brain as flexible, not hard-wired, and that people "do change their brain functions in response to experience." New studies focus on how all students learn differently, and reveal the influence of a rich learning environment.

We invite you to explore the rich, stimulating learning environment, learn more about our teaching practices, speak with members of our diverse community and experience these hallmarks of Calhoun's programs.


For More Information

We welcome your questions about progressive education, and are happy to give tours of our school to educators. For more information, please contact Tanya Espy-Disparti, 212-497-6542.

Main Building 3rd - 12th Grades 433 West End Avenue New York, NY 10024 212.497.6500

Robert L. Beir Lower School Building 2.8 Years - 2nd Grade 160 West 74th Street New York, NY 10023 212.497.6550

Connect With Us
powered by finalsite