THE ACTIVITY SCHOOL: RATIONALE AND HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS
AbstractThe Parent Commission on Education in the Province of Quebec has already recommended to the Government that the école active should constitute the basic pedagogical principle for the Provincial educational system. To the Commissioners, the "activist school" entails an institution where pedagogical efforts reflect a twin principle of child psychology - namely, the child is "essentially an active being and it is through use that his capacities develop and his personality expands." In recommending "genuinely child-centered education" in which the pupil's natural curiosity is to be utilized to develop intellectual and moral autonomy, the Parent Commission criticizes the traditional school for generally limiting itself "to more immediate goals" and not striving "to cultivate the spirit of initiative and any feeling of responsibility." The present article is based on Gustav G. Schoenchen's The Activity School: A Basic Philo8ophy for Teachers 3 (an adaptation of his 1939 doctoral dissertation at New York University) and aims to review a major section of this significant and relevant treatise. Schoenchen's book consists of three major parts: 1- Historical and Philosophical; 2- Methodology; 3- Application. The following analysis is primarily drawn from Part 1 which sets forth the basic historical antecedents of the activity school. Emphasis is upon those individuals in Europe whose writings and practices contributed to the underlying principles of what has come to be called activity pedagogy.
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