Landon E. Beyer
Kilpatrick was a major figure in the progressive education movement of the early 20th century. This succinct appraisal of the life and thinking of Kilpatrick focuses particularly on his approach to teaching. Kilpatrick argued that the key to a good education was ‘for the teacher to understand each child, so he can give him recognition for the good things in him; and so to conduct his class that every child has an opportunity to show off those good things which he can and is able to do’.
Kilpatrick argued that every child should be treated with affection: ‘I tried to teach so that the children could get some good out of it and in such a way that they could see they were getting good out of it’.
In Kilpatrick’s view, children acquired experience and knowledge best by solving practical problems in social situations. This led him to conclude that the 'psychology of the child' was the crucial element in the learning process. Children had to be able to decide freely what they wanted to do; his belief was that their motivation and learning success would increase in line with the extent to which they pursued their own 'purposes' and creativity.
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