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Teachers as Researchers: Developing a Course of Study

  • Anne Durst
Chapter
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Abstract

The Laboratory School teachers worked with John Dewey to “discover … how a school could become a cooperative community while developing in individuals their own capacities and satisfying their own needs.”1 At the same time, as “investigators,”2 they were testing Dewey’s “organic circuit” theory of learning—the idea that children learn through a process of “doing and undergoing”—taking action, and reflecting on the outcome of their acts. This was, according to Katherine Camp Mayhew and Anna Camp Edwards, unprecedented; as they argued, “There was no previous school experience which had attempted to meet the psychological conditions of learning implied in the concept of the organic circuit.”3 To test the school’s “working hypotheses” while coordinating individual and social needs, Dewey argued that two factors must be considered: the first, discussed in the previous chapter, was “the establishment of the school as a form of community life.” The second, to be considered here, was “working out a definite body of subject-matter, the material of a ‘course of study.’”4

Keywords

Manual Training Science Curriculum Cooperative Community Traditional School Teaching History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Dewey, Introduction to Katherine Camp Mayhew and Anna Camp Edwards, The Dewey School: The Laboratory School of the University of Chicago, 1896–1903 [1936] (New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transactions, 2007), xiv.Google Scholar
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    Mayhew and Edwards, The Dewey School, 43. Several documents from the school’s early years discuss the school and its ideas from the teacher’s standpoint and from the child’s standpoint. (See, for instance, School Plan and Notes, No. 1, The University of Chicago School, October 16, 1896, I, 1,1, held previously in the Katherine Camp Mayhew Collection at the Teachers College Library, now held at the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.) While I consider both standpoints, my focus in this study is on the teachers’ experiences and perspectives. In addition, my examination of the school’s curriculum will focus on the social occupations of cooking and textile work, and their connections to history and science, on the one hand, and the traditional subjects of reading, writing, and mathematics. Left out of this discussion are art and music, manual training or shop-work, Latin, French, and German, and the kindergarten or subprimary class. On the occupations, see also John Dewey, The School and Society [1899] (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990).Google Scholar
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