These 'themes' were created in order to confront the problems of the postwar society. Progressives looked optimistically for signs of political and economic democracy during the postwar "reconstruction." Progressivism was at its heart an effort to remoralize society. At all political levels, politicians advocated laws to facilitate moral economic and political systems. They advocated city improvements, like pure water and sanitary sewage. They wanted honesty in public officials. They wanted the right for the people to initiate important legislation. They wanted the right to have referenda on laws that politicians enacted. They wanted the right to recall public officials who did not do what they had been elected to do.
The first phase of progressivism, "The Genesis phase", took place between 1890-1910. The aim of this stage was to test innovative ideas and theories, and develop a new approach to education. John Dewey supported the idea that students should be active learners. The second phase, "Child Centered Education", took place between 1919-1930. Dewey promulgated and tested a child-centered approach in education. The phase of "social reconstruction" took place between 1930-1945.