The charge that schooling is poorly adapted to modern conditions in South Africa and abroad has been debated since the beginning of the twentieth century, with the result that two strands of competing paradigms – traditional and progressive – crystallised from the discussion. This article delineates the salient features of progressive education to prepare the ground for a comparison of outcomes-based education (OBE) in South Africa with education in the Netherlands and thereby determine the influence, if any, of progressive education on OBE and Dutch education respectively. The data gathered to determine the progressive influence on Dutch education showed that some elements of progressive education had been combined with traditional (tried-and-tested) practices to create an effective primary educational system. The implication for South Africa is that teachers should be allowed to adapt their teaching styles and curriculum development to accommodate learners who cannot benefit optimally from progressive teaching, and that progressive principles can be implemented in South Africa, provided it is done as in the Netherlands without trying to force everybody into the same mould (i.e., on the crude principle that ‘one size fits all’),