The Human Restoration Project explores a variety of progressive thought to move all learners toward humanity through passion, service, and empowerment. We welcome criticism and remain open to dialogue on expanding our viewpoints further.


Key Influences

We recommend starting with writings by any of these educators:

  • John Dewey

  • Maria Montessori

  • Paulo Freire

  • bell hooks

  • Deborah Meier

  • Jonathan Kozol

  • Susan Engel

  • John Holt

  • Henry Giroux

  • Alfie Kohn

Working Framework

By infusing elements of experiential education, critical pedagogy, and cooperative learning, students are empowered through self-actualization, empowerment, inquiry toward real-world problems, and developing passion in life. Schooling should seek authentic discourse in recognizing student perspectives, asserting their community, and actualizing their dreams.

We want to transform public schools but not dismantle viable options for all learners. These changes will create an equitable, sustainable school system.


Collection of Works

The following is our collection of research surrounding progressive education. Need to convince a traditional educator? Looking to back up your own research? In doubt? Check out the vast amount of information out there. Please report broken links to us. Materials are sorted to the most relevant topic, but many overlap. Paid resources are noted as **. Note: all research should be looked at through a critical lens, there is no denying that many research studies fail to be replicated or have mixed results.


Progressive Instructional Practices


Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic Education**. Beane, James. 1997.

  • A look at how schools can integrate all subjects into one core curriculum through the use of a democratic education.

Experience and Education. Dewey, John. 1938.

  • A fundamental overview of experiential learning and one of the originators of progressive education.

The Lives of Children: The Story of the First Street School**. Dennison, George. 1999.

  • An inspiring look at how Dennison leads students towards positive outcomes through an authentic "human" education at the First Street School.

The End of the Rainbow: How Educating For Happiness (Not Money) Would Transform Our Schools**. Engel, Susan. 2015.

  • An incredibly detailed account of how our obsession with “job-readiness” in schools has perilous effects on the education system.

The Game of School: Why We All Play It, How it Hurts Kids, and What It Will Take to Change It**. Fried, Robert. 2005.

  • Similar to Holt's writings against school, this modern work showcases how students are not adequately prepared for the future via traditional schooling.

The Passionate Learner: How Teachers and Parents Can Help Children Reclaim the Joy of Discovery**. Fried, Robert. 2002.

  • Various examples and stories are provided on how one can incorporate curiosity into their classroom.

These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can't Afford to Abandon Our Public Schools**. Meier, Deborah & Gasoi, Emily. 2017.

  • A fundamental look at democratic schooling and how we can reimagine public schools to be equitable and empowering for all.

Free School Teaching: A Journey into Radical Progressive Education**. Morrison, Kristan. 2007.

  • A look at a free school in Albany, New York, and the practices that occur that help to radically change students' lives.

Addicted to Reform**. Morrow, John. The New Press. 2017.

  • A 12-step framework to moving away from more grueling standards and a "back to basics approach" to a progressive education that cares about children.

The Psychology of a Child**. Piaget, Jean & Inhelder, Barbel. 1969. 

  • Outlines stages of a child's development and recognizes ways educators (and parents) can positively reinforce their learning.

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools** by Socol, Ira, Moran, Pam, & Ratliff. Chad. 2018.

  • A guided, discussive, and narrative-based reading on how imagining school with a blank slate allows for progressive reform.

The Smartest Kids in the World**. Ripley, Amanda. Simon & Schuster. 2013.

  • An analysis of American teenagers taking classes for a year in three countries: Finland, South Korea, and Poland, and how these systems conflict with and resonate with progressive educators in the United States.

Creative Schools**. Robinson, Ken. Aronica, Lou. Penguin Publishing Group. 2016.

  • A summary of why education needs to change due to stifling inaccuracies of standardization and the antiquation of the school model.


From Boutique to Big Box. Acker, Teresa van. The University of North Carolina. 2013.

  • A well-documented dissertation that showcases how schools must scale progressive practices (in this case Montessori) through strong teacher support.

Classrooms: Goals, Structures, and Student Motivation. Ames, Carole. Journal of Educational Psychology. 1992.

  • Details how a focus on purposeful and meaningful education naturally lends itself to mastery and student motivation.

Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective. Deci, Edward et al. Educational Psychologist. 1991.

  • An overview of self-determination theory and how its incorporation in school showcases a heavily increased level of learning.

Classroom Social Experiences as Predictors of Academic Performance. Flook, Lisa. Repetti, Rena. Ullman, Jodie. Developmental Psychology. 2005.

  • Study shows how lack of peer acceptance in 4th grade led to increasingly negative academic outcomes to 6th grade (and possibly beyond), identifying a need for teachers to build relationships between students.

Children's Need to Know: Curiosity in Schools**. Engel, Susan. Harvard Educational Review. 2011.

  • An essay supporting the need for children's inquiry, socialization, and natural curiosity to be embraced and focused on by schools.

Square pegs in round holes: The mainstream schooling experiences of students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their parents. Harrington, Caitlin. The University of Queensland. 2014.

  • This extensive study of ADHD students in school realizes that ADHD students are often not included or individualized for at school, nor are they readily accepted. It calls on the need for more individualization for every student.

Choices for Children. Kohn, Alfie. Phi Delta Kappan. 1993.

  • Makes the case for students having a voice in the classroom, with research showcasing how this leads to greater learning outcomes.

The Truth About Self-Esteem. Kohn, Alfie. Phi Delta Kappan. 1994.

  • Research that showcases how a student's focus on self-esteem (via congratulations or grades) takes away from learning outcomes as a whole as all focused is placed on the individual, and has little effect on a student's actual self-worth.

Who's Asking? Kohn, Alfie. Educational Leadership. 2015.

  • A look at how questioning is used in schools, including their intent and purpose.

Awash in a Sea of Standards. Marzano, Robert & Kendall, John. McREL. 1998.

  • Demonstrates that it would take 22 years of schooling to hit every core subject area class' standards.

The Blue Blood is Bad Right? Simon, Katherine. Research and Theory on Human Development. 2012.

  • A story about the importance of curiosity in education.


Grading / Gradeless Learning


Assessment Matters: Self-Assessment and Peer Assessment. Ako, Wahanga. The University of Waikato. 2012.

  • Guides both peer- and self- assessment, showcasing best practice in both of its utilizations. The overview emphasizes the need for change in the core structure of teaching - placing more responsibility on learners rather than the instructor.

Motivation and Cheating During Adolescence. Anderman, Eric, et al. American Educational Research Association. 1997.

  • Study shows that students who see assessment as a test of performance and extrinsic incentives, rather than mastery and improvement, are more likely to cheat.

The Relations of Learning and Grade Orientations to Academic Performance. Beck, H. P., Rorrer-Woody, S., & Pierce, L. G. Teaching of Psychology. 1991.

  • Study that showcases how people with a mindset of "grading orientation" (focused on grades) perform worse in terms of GPA and general psychology testing as opposed to those with a "learning orientation" (focused on learning.)

Quality of Learning With an Active Versus Passive Motivational Set**. Benware, Carl, Deci, Edward  American Educational Research Journal. 1984.

  • Presents data that students who knew they were going to teach information (active learning) were more motivated, learned more, and felt more engaged than those who simply passively received information.

Task-Involving and Ego-Involving Properties of Evaluation: Effects of Different Feedback Conditions on Motivational Perceptions, Interest, and Performance. Butler, Ruth. Journal of Educational Psychology. 1987.

  • When giving feedback, no grades with purely written or oral comments for improvement had the highest impact on continued motivation of students.

Enhancing and Undermining Intrinsic Motivation: The Effects of Task-Involving and Ego-Involving Evaluation of Interest and Performance. Butler, Ruth. Journal of Educational Psychology. 1988.

  • Similar to Butler's first study, no grades with purely written or oral comments for improvement continued motivation for all students, whereas only students who received high grades for graded assessment had continued motivation.

Autonomy in Children's Learning: An Experimental and Individual Difference Investigation. Grolnick, Wendy, Ryan, Richard. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1987.

  • When two groups of students were presented with controlling vs. non-controlled learning, those in a non-controlled (and more autonomous) environment had greater learning outcomes and motivation.

Grading Hampers Cooperative Information Sharing in Group Problem Solving. Hayek, Anne-Sophie et. al. Solvay Brussels School Economics & Management. 2015.

  • Experiment demonstrates how when members of a group knew that their contribution would be visible and graded, they shared less relevant information, in comparison to someone who was not expecting a contribution grade.

The Trouble with Rubrics. Kohn, Alfie. English Journal. 2006.

  • Shows that standardization of learning for student outcomes as well as the focus on achieving rather than learning is detrimental to students.

The Case Against Grades. Kohn, Alfie. Educational Leadership. 2011.

  • Various facets that demonstrate how grading has a negative impact on learning.

Competitive Grading Sabotages Good Teaching. Krumboltz, John. Yeh, Christine. Phi Delta Kappan. 1996.

  • Showcases the negative effects of grading on classroom learning.

Response to Assessment Feedback: The Effects of Grades, Praise, and Source of Information. Lipnevich, Anastasiya. Smith, Jeffrey. ETS. 2008.

  • Detailed feedback without grades was shown to have the most improvement on future student work.

Student and peer assessment in action. Logan, Elaine. University of Cumbria. 2009.

  • Findings demonstrate that although peer and self assessment initially take a long period to implement (requiring time for reflection and general unfamiliarity), students have fundamental gains in self-critical leading.

Writing to the Rubric: Lingering Effects of Traditional Standardized Testing on Direct Writing Assessment. Mabry, Linda. The Phi Delta Kappan. 1999.

  • Summary of how rubrics undermine the purpose of expression and creative thinking involved in the writing process.

Student Self-Assessment: The Key to Stronger Student Motivation and Higher Achievement. McMillan, James & Hearn, Jessica. educational HORIZONS. 2008.

  • A summary overview of self-assessment and its usage in the classroom, including tendencies toward mastery and reflective thinking. Provides multiple stages of implementation, a lengthy amount of research studies, and highlights the benefits of its usage. Especially noted are the benefits to intrinsic motivation as a result of taking control of one’s learning.

A Second Look at Grading and Classroom Performance: Report of a Research Study**. Moeller, Aleidine J., Reschke, Claus  Modern Language Journal. 1993.

  • Data found shows that there was no additional motivation from grading for any test performance.

Failing Grades for Retention. Natriello, Gary. School Superintendents Association. 1998.

  • Demonstrates how there is a negative correlation between low grades and retaining students.

Peer / Self Assessment and Student Learning. Ndoye, Abdou. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 2017.

  • Demonstrates the efficacy of using self (and peer) reflection through sampled graduate students. Not only did students have increased academic performance, but also higher motivation, understanding of the purpose of the course, and a more supportive learning environment.

Making the Grade in a Portfolio-Based System: Student Performance and Student Perspective. Nowacki, Amy. Frontiers in Psychology. 2013.

  • Based on doctoral candidates, students who received a traditional portfolio grade did slightly better, but had increased stress. Notably, students felt they had more self-assurance from receiving a grade, making the case for better feedback mechanisms.

Do Grades Shape Students' School Engagement? The Psychological Consequences of Report Card Grades at the Beginning of Secondary School. Poorthuis, Astrid et. al. Journal of Educational Psychology. 2015.

  • Students who were presented their grade cards halfway through the year showcased decreased motivation, engagement, and performance after receiving a low marking.

Why Grades Engender Performance-Avoidance Goals: The Mediating Role of Autonomous Motivation. Pulfrey, Caroline. Buchs, Celine. American Psychological Association. 2011.

  • Multiple experiments reveal that students when pressured with a grade are less likely to be motivated and/or would be more likely to perform as best as possible.

Let's Declare Education a Disaster and Get On with Our Lives**. Smith, Frank. Phi Delta Kappan. 1995.

  • A look at how grading and modern educational practices have disempowered students and educators

Assessing does not mean threatening: The purpose of assessment as a key determinant of girls’ and boys’ performance in a science class. Souchal, Carine et. al. British Journal of Educational Psychology. 2014. 

  • A small study which demonstrates how competitive grading of tests led to perceptions on gender-based performance.

Student-Led Conferences: An Alternative Reporting Method. Taylor-Patel, Cherie. The University of Auckland. 2011.

  • An analysis of how successful student-led conferences can be for the development of a child. A specific framework is outlined to acknowledge true success, with warnings detailed on how false or unprepared presentations can decrease learning goals. This is an incredibly in-depth work, we specifically suggest Chapter 4C (Development of Competencies) and Chapter 5 (Beliefs of Parents/Teachers/Students).

Self-Determination and Persistence in a Real-Life Setting: Toward a Motivational Model of of High School Dropout. Vallerand, Robert. Fortier, Michelle. Guay, Frederic. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1997.

  • A research study that showcases how self-determination and understanding/emphasizing one's own drive for learning is correlated with one's desire to stay in school.



Research Articles

National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling.** Baker, David & LeTendre, Gerald. 2005.

  • Study finds that American middle school students have more homework than their peers in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. However, this did not correlate with any achievement: test scores were highest for countries assigning the least homework (Denmark, Czech Republic) and lowest for those with the most (Iran, Thailand.)

Testing a Model of School Learning: Direct and Indirect Effects on Academic Achievement**. Cool, Valerie. Keith, Timothy. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 1991.

  • Motivation, ability, and quality of instruction were found to all have important outcomes to a student's success in school, however, homework was found to be negligible or even counterproductive.

Testing a Model of School Learning. Contemporary Educational Policy. Cool, Valerie & Keith, Timothy. 1991.

  • Analyzed hundreds of high school student responses to the value of homework in relation to their success. After factoring in quality of instruction, motivation, and class choices, found that homework had no meaningful effect on achievement

Does Homework Really Improve Achievement? Arkansas Tech University. Costley, Kevin. 2013.

  • An analysis of many homework studies which finds that homework has marginal gains at best, and only at higher grade levels.

End Homework Now. Educational Leadership. Kralovec, K. & Buell, J. 2001.

  • A series of studies on how homework impacts family life which found that parents felt their children needed to complete homework, but it resulted in a loss of important family time. In addition, over 50% of subjects noted that homework led to stress, struggle, and serious familial arguments.

When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association Between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math. Maltese, Adam. Tai, Robert. The High School Journal. 2012.

  • States that mathematics and science homework had only significant relevance to standardized testing, not obtaining high grades in a classroom - the implication being that homework's negative impact on students is only helping on standardized tests.

Critical Pedagogy


Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire, Paulo. 1970/1993 (update).

  • The basis of "critical pedagogy" - analyzing how the teacher/student relationship has become similar to colonization models, and our need for teachers to work "with" students rather than "at" students.

Education for Critical Consciousness**. Freire, Paulo. 1973/2013 (update).

  • Further inquiry into the concept of "critical pedagogy" and how one's perspective and life situation needs a raised consciousness to understand and change the system they're apart of.

On Critical Pedagogy**. Giroux, Henry. 2011.

  • A rejection of the empirical concept of teaching, Giroux analyzes how students have become more like customers than learners.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom**. hooks, bell. 1994.

  • A collection of essays on school, gender, race, and their intersectionalities - hooks analyzes how teaching can liberate.

This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education** Vilson, José Luis. 2014. 

  • An important look at the issues of diversity in education, not giving up on one’s kids, and how we can empower all voices within schools.

    Research Articles

Education, Politics, and Social Transformation. Apple, Michael. University of Wisconsin. 2006.

  • Summary of how identity and social empowerment connect with (for positive and negative reasons) school.

The “Banking” Concept of Education. Freire, Paulo. 1968.

  • Details how the view of students as passive receivers of information can corrupt and misalign the goals of the education system.


Removal of Standardized Testing


Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry by Farley, Todd. 2009.

  • The author's journey working in the testing industry showcases how ridiculous, inaccurate, and manipulative testing is and how it should not ever be used for assessment.

How Children Succeed**. Tough, Paul. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2012.

  • A detailed argument surrounding how intelligence should be assessed through "soft skills" rather than traditional grading and testing.

Research Articles

The Effect of High-Stakes Testing on Student Motivation and Learning. Amrein, Audrey. Berliner, David. Educational Leadership. 2003.

  • Study shows that high-stakes testing has made no improvement to students' learning, actually demotivating and hurting outcomes.

The Testing Culture and the Persistence of High Stakes Testing Reforms. Moses, Michele. Nanna, Michael. Education and Culture. 2007.

  • Argument against the "high stakes testing culture" and its dangers to the educational curricula.

The Development and Impact of High Stakes Testing**. Natriello, Gary. Pallas, Aaron. 1999.

  • A history of high stakes testing in the United States which calls for a movement away from standardized testing as there is plausible research that shows ethnic and gender demotivation casual links to academic struggles on these tests.

The Impact of a Junior High School Community Intervention Project: Moving Beyond the Testing Juggernaut and Into a Community of Creative Learners. Nelson, Larry, McMahan, Sarah, & Torres, Tacia. School Community Journal. 2012.

  • Demonstrates how bringing in the surrounding community can increase morale, relationships, and lower absence rates. Overall, community involvement showed drastic increases in a measurement of "school culture" - which was adverse to the demands of standardized testing.

The Impact of High-Stakes Exams on Students and Teachers. New York State Education Department. 2004.

  • Although this study suggests that "academic achievement" has increased as a result of state testing, it notes that it depends on what one regards as "achievement" (note: it means traditional standards) and emphasizes that teacher autonomy has decreased significantly (as well as the cost of state testing).

High-Stakes Testing and Student Achievement: Problems for the No Child Left Behind Act. Nichols, Sharon. Glass, Gene. Berliner, David. The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice. 2005.

  • High-stakes testing is shown to have absolutely no effect on student learning and study concludes that this style of testing should be removed.

The Impact of High-stakes Testing on the Learning Environment. Ritt, Maddolyn. School of Social Work. 2016.

  • Standardized testing is linked to the over-testing of ELL students, teachers losing relationships with their students, and a narrowing / loss of the curriculum for multiple subjects.

The Experience of Education: The impacts of high stakes testing on school students and their families. Wyn, Johanna. Turnbull, Malcolm. Grimshaw, Lyndall. Whitlam Institute. 2014.

  • Educational study from Australian state standardized testing (similar to the US) that concludes that high stakes testing is not for the best interests of children.

Restorative Justice


The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Zehr, Howard. Gohar, Ali. Good Books. 2003.

  • Every facet of restorative justice, including its definition and how it needs to be implemented in society.

Research Articles

Restorative Justice in Schools. Hopkins, Belinda. Support for Learning. 2002.

  • How to use restorative justice in the classroom with research to back up its practice.

Beyond Discipline. Kohn, Alfie. Education Week. 1996.

  • An overview of progressive discipline practices and importance of proper classroom management techniques.

Discipline is the Problem - Not the Solution. Kohn, Alfie. Learning Magazine. 1995.

  • An internal look at how educators need to consider the task that students misbehave on, rather than how they're misbehaving.

Implementing restorative justice. State of Illinois. n.d.

  • Field guide for educators to implement restorative justice techniques at school.

Seeing things differently: restorative justice and school discipline. Varnham, Sally. Education and the Law. 2005.

  • Heavily researched account of why restorative justice is needed in school.

Seeing things differently: restorative justice and school discipline**. Varnham, Sally. Education and the Law. 2006.

  • A look at how foreign countries use restorative justice and its implications for United States practice.

Restorative Justice in Everyday Life: Beyond the Formal Ritual. Wachtel, Ted. International Institute for Restorative Practices. 1999.

  • Outlines how to deal with offending behavior without demeaning or destroying someone's reputation or furthering harm.


Experiential Learning


The New Education**. Davidson, Cathy. 2017.

  • A study of how higher education needs to embrace creative learning, which could easily be applied to all educational practice.

Research Articles

Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century: Skills for the Future. Bell, Stephanie. Taylor & Francis Group. 2010.

  • An overview of how project-based learning can be used for various "soft skill" sets.

Motivating Project-Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning. Blumenfeld et al. 1991.

  • A full review of project-based learning, its importance to education and motivation, and how to incorporate it into a classroom.

Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College. Gallop. 2017.

  • Outlines how students choose what their college major will be and based on findings, recommends that students are exposed to more internships & experiences to find greater purpose.

Experiential Learning Theory as a Guide for Experiential Educators in Higher Education. Kolb, Alice & Kolb, David. A Journal for Engaged Educators. 2017.

  • A full overview of current research on experiential learning and the spaces that must be built to support it.

Comparison of Standardized Test Scores from Traditional Classrooms and Those Using Problem-Based Learning**. Needham, Martha. 2010.

  • Data showcasing how 6th grade students performed just as well on standardized tests via PBL-delivery vs. traditional-delivery. Research also showcases that students learned more skills via PBL-delivery.

An Action Research on Project-Based Learning and Understanding by Design and Their Effects on the Science Achievement and Attitude of Science Students. Rubrica, Richard. 2018.

  • Study follows 6th grade science students on a traditional and PBL track, and finds that students in a PBL setting had better academic, motivational, and attitudinal outcomes.

STEM Students on the Stage (SOS): Promoting Student Voice and Choice in STEM Education Through an Interdisciplinary, Standards-focused, Project Based Learning Approach**. Sahin, Alphaslan. Top, Namik. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research. 2015.

  • Showcases how design-based science programs (experiential education & project-based learning) have a positive correlation with STEM teaching.

A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning. Thomas, John. 2000.

  • Summarizes the current (2000) research on project-based learning, its benefits and challenges.

Promoting Literacy


Readicide**. Gallagher, Kelly. 2009.

  • A well-written account of how school programs that are meant to encourage reading actually hinder and destroy a love of reading, in-turn decreasing reading comprehension.

Research Articles

Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School. Anderson et al. Reading Research Quarterly. 1998.

  • Study shows the impact on learning and achievement associating with book reading and implores teachers to issue more reading outside of school (note: not forced reading of certain things).

Keeping Score. Chenoweth, Karin. School Library Journal. 2001. 

  • Overview of how competitive scoring of reading programs can diminish the reading goals of the program.

Examining the Effects of a School-wide Reading Culture on the Engagement of Middle School Students. Daniels, Erika & Steres, Michael. RMLE. 2011.

  • This research shows a connection between motivation, reading, and academic success in school.

Free Voluntary Reading: New Research, Applications, and Controversies. Krashen, Stephen. RELC. 2004. 

  • Research surrounding the importance of giving silent reading time during the day to students where one chooses if and what to read, including massive benefits in learning all around.

Beating the Odds: Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well. Langer, Judith. National Research Center on Learning & Achievement. 2000.

  • Extensive research that demonstrates that deeper thinking, extensive discussion, deep-reading of text, and experiential learning outperformed traditional schools focused on test prep on critical thinking and learning.

How the Amount of Time Spent on Independent Reading Affects Reading Achievement: A Response to the National Reading Panel**. Samuels, Jay & Wu, Yi-Chen. University of Minnesota. 

  • Study showcases that students, when given ample time to read, show significant gains in achievement (as opposed to "reading activities.")



Research Articles

The Effects of Mindfulness on Students' Attention. Bringus, Rose. St. Catherine University. 2016.

  • Although data showed that students didn't necessarily pay attention more using mindfulness techniques (which may be the implementation of the study), students demonstrated a desire for these techniques taught.

De-stressing Stress: The Power of Mindsets and the Art of Stressing Mindfully. Crum, Alia & Lyddy, Chris. The Handbook of Mindfulness. 2013.

  • Guide on the meaning of mindfulness and its importance to everyone's lives.

Mindfulness for Students Classified with Emotional/Behavior Disorder. Malow, Micheline & Vance, Austin. Manhattanville College. 2016.

  • An investigation into utilizing mindfulness in the classroom among adolescents that showcased increased "personal mastery" of content.

Mindfulness Practices and Children's Emotional and Mental Well-Being. Peacock, Jennifer. Brock University. 2015.

  • A heavily researched account on the benefits of mindfulness in the classroom, from statistical data to actual examples of practice.

"Soft Skills" and Community

Research Articles

Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals. Duckworth, Angela et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2007. 

  • Research shows how grit is a general indicator of success. Notably, however, is that grit is defined as a individual's perseverance and a passion for a long-term goal.

Making Cooperative Learning Work. Johnson, David. Johnson, Roger. Theory into Practice. 1999.

  • Discusses implementation of cooperative learning, which is shown to have greater outcomes in student achievement than competitive learning.

Community in the Classroom: An Approach to Curriculum and Instruction as a Means for the Development of Student Cognitive, Social and Emotional Engagement in a High School Classroom. Jones, Tammy. University of Hawai'i. 2012

  • A detailed analysis of how relationship building - specifically a focus on social and emotional engagement - led to drastically increased academic performance.

Is Competition Ever Appropriate in a Cooperative Classroom? Kohn, Alfie. Cooperative Learning Magazine. 1993.

  • A case is made that students should never be put in a competitive environment in schools.

Deep, Deep, Deep Inside We're All Friends. McGraw, Sheila. Rhode Island College. 2012.

  • A study that involves a group of 2nd grade girls and how schools interact with their relationship building. Suggestions are made to make learning more collaborative, with more authentic time given to developing relationships.

Creativity as a Habit. Sternberg, Robert. Education Week. 2007.

  • An argument against "teaching to the test" and instead promoting practice that focus on creativity.



Research Articles

The role of purpose in life in healthy identity formation: A grounded model. Cotton Bronk, Kendall. New Directions for Student Leadership. 2012.

  • Adolescents had incredibly close ties between their purpose and identity. When teenagers understood their place in the world, they took more purposeful actions and understood more about who they were.

Persevering with Positivity and Purpose: An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect as Predictors of Grit. Cotton Bronk, Kendall, Hill, Patrick, & Burrow, Anthony. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2014.

  • Grit - as in working hard to achieve your goals - had substantial correlation with those who had life direction and commitment to a purpose.

The Development of Purpose During Adolescence. Damon, William, Menon, Jenni, & Cotton Bronk, Kendall. Applied Developmental Science. 2003.

  • A summary of pitfalls in the research of purpose-finding as well as the current research that exists in the field.

Character strengths predict subjective well-being during adolescence. Gillham, Jane, et. al. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2011.

  • Research finds that 9th and 10th grade students had greater life satisfaction and less depressive symptoms when they found meaning and love in their lives.

Understanding the pathways to purpose: Examining personality and well-being correlates across adulthood. Hill, Patrick, Sumner, Rachel & Burrow, Anthony. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2014. 

  • Notes that those who are proactive at finding their purpose in life have greater emotional/social well-being, as well as a greater agency in comparison to those whose purpose came about on its own.

Buffering the Negative Impact of Poverty on Youth: The Power of Purpose in Life. Machell, Kyla, Disabato, David, & Kashdan, Todd. Soc Indic Res. 2016.

  • Teenagers who live in poverty, who often face increased antisocial and decreased prosocial behavior, can alleviate and escape from these mindsets by finding a purpose in life - developing skills to achieve in spite of adversity.

Adolescents’ purpose in life and engagement in risky behaviors: Differences by gender and ethnicity. Sayles, Martha. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. 1995.

  • Students who scored low in having a life purpose and/or meaning were significantly more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as using dangerous drugs or drinking and driving.

Self-Directed Learning


The Unschooled Mind**. Gardner, Howard. Basic Books. 2011.

  • An overview of how current instructional practices go against the natural patterns of learning, with suggestions on how to reconstruction schools.

What do I do Monday? Holt, John. 1995.

  • An overview of Holt's methodology of best teaching practice, encouraging students to learn on their own.

How Children Fail. Holt, John. Penguin Education. 1964.

  • This book analyzes how traditional education has led to the destruction of learning by students, ruining their natural sense of discovery they were born with.

The Discovery of the Child**. Montesorri, Maria. 1986 (translation).

  • An introduction to the "Montesorri Method" - a fully peer-taught and choice-based curriculum employed in Montesorri schools throughout the world.

Research Articles

The Emotional Costs of Parents’ Conditional Regard: A Self-Determination Theory Analysis. Assor, Avi, Roth, Guy, & Deci, Edward. Journal of Personality. 2004.

  • Demonstrates that parents who show conditional love toward their children (e.g. withdrawing and giving based on their behavior) saw strong short-term results, but incredibly negative long-term results toward self-directed regulation and behavior.

Less-structured time in children's daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning. Barker et al. Frontiers in Psychology. 2014. 

  • Study shows how children, when left alone to develop their own structure, are better at self-directed processes in the future.

A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Moffitt et al. PNAS. 2011. 

  • Details how low self-control in life leads to overall decreased opportunities and outcomes. The study suggests that universal programs and steps be taken to increase the teaching of self-control/direction from a young age.

Classroom Applications of Research on Self-Regulated Learning. Paris, Scott & Paris, Alison. Educational Psychologist. 2001.

  • This research study overviews each practice teachers can take to increase self-regulated and determination in their classroom for the benefit of students.

Pressure From Above and Pressure From Below as Determinants of Teachers’ Motivation and Teaching Behaviors. Pelletier, Luc, Seguin-Levesque, Chantal, & Legault, Louise. Journal of Educational Psychology. 2002.

  • Study shows that the more a teacher feels pressured from above (by admin) and/or below (by students), the less likely they are to allow for self-determination in the classroom and in-turn, the more controlling they are.

The Role of Goal Orientation in Self-Regulated Learning. Pintrich, Paul. Academic Press. 2000.

  • An overview of how self-regulated learning should be coordinated in a classroom for greater student outcomes.




Recess: Its Role in Education and Development**. Pellegrini, Anthony. 2005.

  • Detailed study on the importance of recess (and breaks in general) and why overscheduling is dangerous for our students

Research Articles

The Value of Play I: The definition of play gives insights. Gray, Peter. Freedom to Learn. 2008.

  • Outlines the need and practice of play in schools, including its benefits and definition as "play."

The Role of Recess in Primary School. Pellegrini, Anthony. 2005.

  • Research comprised and featured in its book by the same author, recognizing the importance of play and socialization in recess.

The Importance of Play. Whitebread, David. 2012.

  • A full report and collection of research supporting why play is insurmountably important for young people.


Books of the Month

The following are our curated readings for each month. Each of these resources would be fantastic for any progressive educator to reflect on.





  • A School of Our Own by Samuel Levin and Susan Engel

    • The story of Samuel Levin (Susan Engel’s son), who creates a “school within a school” - operated and maintained by high schoolers - for a passion project.


  • On Critical Pedagogy by Henry Giroux

    • An outline of critical pedagogy that expresses the need for dismantling neoliberal education and the assumption of “knowledge-based” curriculums.






  • On Being a Teacher by Jonathan Kozol

    • An analysis of the historically oppressed and their education, and how we can revolutionize a classroom through subversive rebellion.



  • Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

    • A summary of elements of critical pedagogy with a focus on feminism, racism, and forming progressive classrooms that empower students.



  • Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni

    • A description of the issue with rankings systems of universities in America and the false prestige our children hold them to.

  • Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz

    • In-depth details of how our society is hurting students who over-prepare and want to attend elite universities.


  • What School Could Be by Ted Dintersmith

    • Accounts by teachers and administrators in progressive schools in across America - displaying how to change education and the problems we're currently facing.

  • Originals by Adam Grant

    • Acknowledgement of how those who do not conform make major breakthroughs - a push for teachers to change the world.


  • The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

    • Summary of how our world is broken into 80/20 binaries and how we should utilize time accordingly.

  • The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley

    • An analysis of perspectives of foreign exchange students in the US and abroad and how different schools are incorporating best practice.


  • Linchpin by Seth Godin

    • An analysis of how those who change the world are those who go against the grain.

  • The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

    • Demonstrates the importance of passion to humankind and the goal of schools to teach it.