Progressivism is derived from the older philosophy of pragmatism. It grew out of the larger progressivist movement of the earlier 20th century in the United States.
Believers of progressivism believe that since reality is always changing truth is relative and not absolute. There is no reason to focus on a fixed, established body of knowledge. This is in contrast to perennialism and essentialism. Supporters of progressivism also are against a transmission style of teaching where the student passively receives information from a teacher, which is also know as rote learning. Instead, students should be involved in problem-solving and the use of the scientific method. This active forms of learning engaged students and prepare them for the real world
John Dewey was probably one of the biggest supporters of progressivism. He believed that a curriculum should be interdisciplinary. This allows students to make connections between subjects rather than learn in isolation. He also stress the role of democracy in the classroom. Students and teachers need to plan what will be learned together. This was radical at the time and still highly uncommon in the 21st century.
In many ways, progressivist were the first to champion student-centered learning. However, one criticism of this movement was that it was too student-centered and neglected the subject matter. With time, progressivism splinter into several radical groups and eventually its influence in education declined considerable.