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Chapter Two Education Writ Large So education has a new scope and a new task. If democracy is thus really to rethink itself to the new cooperative endeavor, a new education must arise, partly to include all citizens in a new type of adult education, partly to remake the schools and other educative institutions so that more effectual social thinking and action will result. Education is here conceived as a function of many institutions in the community, the church, the club, the school, and all other social organizations with a program of public or semipublic activities. —William Kilpatrick, Youth Serves the Community Schools as Social Centers 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. Dewey remarked: We may say that the conception of the school as a social centre is born of our entire democratic movement. Everywhere we see signs of the growing recognition that the community owes to each one of its members the fullest opportunity for development. Everywhere we see the growing recognition that the community life is defective and distorted excepting as it does thus care for all its constituent parts. This is no longer viewed as a matter of charity, but as a matter of justice—nay, even of something higher and better than justice—a necessary phase of developing and growing life.1 23 When he spoke these words in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the National Council of Education, John Dewey developed a theoretical foundation for why schools must see their roles as connected to communities . In the speech entitled “The School as a Social Centre,” Dewey asserts , “our community life has awakened” and argues that changes in society at the turn of the twentieth century required a new educational approach. As part of a broader conception of citizenship, Dewey concludes that schools must act as social centers by connecting their educational missions with the surrounding community.2 Dewey, at this time on the board of Hull House and a close friend of Jane Addams, frequently cites settlement houses, and specifically Hull House, as the model for the role schools should play in society. The “widened and enlightened education” Dewey saw as necessary was provided outside the schools in the settlements. Dewey finds that diverse relations are important to education and observes that in the settlements “there is mixing of people up with each other.” He then adds that these conditions, “promote their getting acquainted with the best side of each other.”3 “Dewey’s notion of ‘the school as a social center’ reflected the vision of Addams and other settlement workers that urban public schools would incorporate settlement ideas and functions,” write Ira Harkavy and John Puckett. “The school and the curriculum would become, in effect, focal points of neighborhood development, improvement, and stabilization.”4 Dewey boldly concludes his speech by declaring that every public school should take the approach proven so effective by the settlements. The 1902 speech was a very significant event. It occurred at a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization, as well as a period that saw an increase in non–English-speaking immigrants that changed the fabric of American civic and community life. Although Dewey was known primarily for his writings about schooling and democracy, these new times required a new approach. With Dewey’s voice serving as a catalyst, education in the community took a new life and focus at the turn of the twentieth century. This speech marked the beginning of a movement out of which came an array of educational activities—formal and informal—within and between communities, colleges and universities, and schools. Over the past century, education in the community has developed a solid foundation with models such as community schools, settlement houses, community learning centers, folk schools, social centers, recreation centers , Catholic Worker houses, community arts and theater, internships, alternatives schools, and the pedagogy of service-learning.5 24 Why Community Matters Today, more than 100 years later, the ideas Dewey set forth could not be more relevant. In this chapter, I provide a review of where Dewey’s ideas have taken us, exploring what Ellen Lagemann has wonderfully termed “education writ large” through an examination of the historic landscape that proceeds what I am...


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