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The Traditional vs Modern Approach to Education

What is the difference between the traditional method of education, and today’s more progressive approach?

The Traditional Approach Traditionally, teachers were seen as vehicles to provide students with information and facts. Teachers stood at the front of the classroom and imparted information for the students to absorb. Teachers acted as 'gate-keepers' of information and decided what to teach the children and what to omit. The goal was to prepare the student for life outside the classroom by supplying the knowledge they would need for university and beyond. In this model, there is not much concern for the students themselves and their individuality or creativity. The focus is more on moulding the student into an educated, ethical, constructive and hard-working member of society once they join the work-force. In this particular model, the teacher is at the centre, while the students are on the periphery.

The Progressive Approach Conversely, the modern approach, otherwise known as the progressive approach, places the student at the centre of the model. Schools who adopt the progressive approach are excited by the idea of student’s curiosity and aim to instill a love of learning about all things – not just a curriculum. The idea behind this model of education is to foster independent thinking. Teachers who use this model reward students for asking questions and encourage inquisitiveness and self-study. While they go about the business of preparing students for their academic goals, progressive teachers will tailor their lessons to meet the unique needs of their students, thereby making the coursework more interesting and creating an environment of joy around learning instead of fear or obligation. Which Approach Do We Adopt at ME? While there are benefits and challenges to both models of education, at ME, we adopt a more progressive approach. On our website, you will find our mission – it reads: "At ME our top priority is always the student. We treat our students like family, investing in them long-term, with many students staying with us from primary school all the way to grade 12. With small group classes and private lessons, we will cater our lessons to the needs of our students to help them reach their academic goals." Why Do We Adopt a Progressive Approach? We want our students to be lifelong learners, with a thirst for knowledge and the ability to find answers themselves. We want our students to continuously engage with new ideas and find new ways of solving problems. We do this by recognising and honouring the creativity and passions of our individual students. Our teachers don’t feed the students facts and figures and expect them to be memorised and regurgitated. We encourage hands-on, interactive learning through projects, experiments, and teamwork. At ME, one of our greatest successes is when a student is able to identify a passion and together, we work on ways to pursue it. We believe that this model allows students to develop a love for education. We encourage our students to use critical thinking skills outside the classroom as they evaluate their opinions on real-world topics and issues. What About Discipline and Curriculums? We understand that some students do better with a more authoritarian style of teaching and for these students, we cater accordingly. There is a difference between progressive education and lessons that are a 'free-for-all.' While encouraging students to question, have fun and enjoy their course-work, our teachers are also ensuring that there is still discipline and order in the classroom. The one does not negate the other. Because our courses specialise in academic tuition for students following international and local curricula, we still have strict aims and guidelines to meet. While we encourage interesting discussion, we also maintain high standards and ensure standardised test preparation & educational planning objectives are always met.

Always Learning Many of our teachers come from very different backgrounds and cultures and we believe this is one of our greatest strengths. Our academic team come from the US, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong, China and the rest of the world. We expose students to new cultures, experiences and world-views and they are encouraged to question and learn as much as they can from their teachers. Another benefit is that our students are able to learn from teachers, many of whom are native English speakers. A lot of our teachers have also studied in the universities students hope to attend one day. In this way, they are best equipped to teach the course, curriculum or exam material. In Conclusion When it comes to the discussion of traditional vs. progressive teaching models, we believe students learn better with hands-on, experiential learning. Progressive education focuses on what students are passionate about and what critical thinking skills they can develop within the classroom framework and beyond. We also believe that progressive education truly benefits our students in the long run and gives them a passion and excitement around learning. A society that continually learns, is one that will evolve and go from strength-to-strength. As the old saying goes, "never stop learning, because life never stops teaching." To learn more about our school and the approach we take to learning, please contact us at 2383 0300.


"Ethan has been with ME Education for six months. During this time, he has seen significant growth not only academically but in many other areas too. The admission consultants matched Ethan to Mr Thomas and we could not be happier with the support ME has offered us from the excellent teachers to the consultants. With one-on-one private lessons, his teacher Mr Thomas is able to give Ethan enough attention and advice during class. Ethan enjoys having lessons with Mr Thomas because of the atmosphere at ME and we are thrilled to report that he received an offer from ESF Discovery Bay! Thank you ME!"

Mrs Tsang


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