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Why Community Matters

Connecting Education with Civic Life

Nicholas V. Longo

Publication Year: 2007

Providing a new perspective on the undeniable relationship between education reform and democratic revitalization, Nicholas V. Longo uncovers and examines practical models in which communities play an essential role in teaching the art of democracy.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page

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pp. 3-5


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

The idea for this book began, without my knowing it, when as an undergraduate student I was invited to participate outside what sometimes felt like the “bubble” of the college campus in several courses that included community service. I soon became immersed in community problem solving as an undergraduate and then as a graduate student working at the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota...

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pp. xiii-xv

My experience in researching and writing this book has only confirmed for me that community matters, as I have been supported by a group of colleagues, friends, and family to whom I am deeply grateful. This book, in many ways, is a continuation of our ongoing conversations. First, I want to thank the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) for recognizing the importance...

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1. Introduction: The Ecology of Civic Learning

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pp. 1-21

Education is seen as the only road to a flourishing democracy. We rely on education to prepare citizens for an ongoing commitment to public life. And yet, “American democracy is at risk,” according to a new report from the American Political Science Association’s first Standing Committee on Civic Education and Engagement, echoing many previous...

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2. Education Writ Large

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pp. 23-44

In order to better understand the ecology of civic learning, certain developments in the history and research on education in the community and civic engagement need to be explored. As a general introduction that will anchor the entire history of expansive models of education, one must look to an influential speech delivered by John Dewey in July 1902...

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3. Hull House

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pp. 45-66

In this first case study, I examine the educational approach of Chicago’s original settlement house, Hull House, beginning with the ideas of its charismatic founder, Jane Addams. An examination of Hull House sets a solid foundation for why community matters, as it is perhaps the most extensive early attempt at comprehensive, relational, and public education...

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4. Highlander Folk School

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pp. 67-90

Prior to founding the Highlander Folk School in 1932 in the poor, rural area near the small Cumberland Plateau town of Monteagle, Tennessee, Myles Horton, like Jane Addams in the late nineteenth century, spent time researching and visiting examples of innovative approaches to education. Horton was looking for a way to put his hopes for social justice....

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5. The Neighborhood Learning Community

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pp. 91-116

In neighborhoods across America, there is a great, often unrealized, potential for learning and civic life. Recreation centers might be abuzz with children’s energy. Libraries can be filled with children reading, researching on the Internet, and doing their homework with adult mentors. Barbershops might be centers for discussing the issues of the day. The university...

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6. Community Practitioners

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pp. 117-126

As the case of the Neighborhood Learning Community (NLC) clearly indicates, education today needs to be accompanied by new democratic skills, knowledge, values, and practices to support democratic renewal. As I explored the landscape of civic education, I discovered many “community practitioners” who embody these traits and are putting them....

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7. Conclusion: Taking It Home

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pp. 127-142

The case studies presented in this book are part of what researchers who study the everyday life of communities describe as the “steady, but always changing commitment to study human experience from the ground up, from the point of interacting individuals who, together and alone, make and live the histories that have been handed down from the ghosts of the...


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pp. 143-170


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pp. 171-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780791479605
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791471975

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2007