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      John Dewey Project
   Fall 2001                                      Newsletter

College of Education and Social Services, University of Vermont

 John Dewey, a native Vermonter, is a familiar historical figure who is acknowledged as one of America’s most prominent social philosophers.  Dewey wrote on a variety of topics relating to education, including moral development, the place of experience in the learning process, and the relationship between education and democracy. Biographers have surmised a link between Dewey’s interest in these topics and his early formative years of living in Burlington, Vermont, experiencing the physical environs of the state (he wrote of climbing Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump), observing Vermont’s famed town meetings, and completing most of his formal education here. Since 1997, the John Dewey Project has found a supportive home here at the University of Vermont, Dewey’s alma mater (1879). 

 One of the central missions of the John Dewey Project is to carry out research and outreach geared toward critically examining how themes arising out of Dewey’s philosophy are playing out in schools, particularly in schools across Vermont.
 This objective has crystallized into a series of research projects organized around the intersection of the following issues: democratic practices, educational processes,  educational institutions and local communities. Presently, several research projects are underway on themes related to these topics. These studies are summarized briefly in the following paragraphs.
Case Study Documentation of the Impact of  Community-Oriented Curriculum on School Culture, School-Community Relations and Student Learning
 Two and a half years ago we identified  “service-learning” as a promising practice that manages to synthesize and encompass many themes relating to 

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democracy, education, schools and communities.  During the 1999-2000 academic year we collected data for a study with a set of research questions aimed at documenting the impacts that community-oriented curriculum had on school-community relations, school culture, and student learning.  Eight schools across the State of Vermont participated in this study. The efforts that each school undertook to develop and sustain curricula, projects, and initiatives with a community-oriented focus was documented.  Researchers spent significant amounts of time on site conducting interviews with teachers, administrators, parents, students, school board members, and community members, and observed classroom and community-based activities.  Over 250 interviews were completed by the end of the first year of the study.  Case studies of each school were written up and will be placed on the
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