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The Arthurdale Community SchoolEducation and Reform in Depression Era Appalachia$
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Sam F. Jr. Stack

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813166889

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813166889.001.0001

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Elsie Ripley Clapp and the Community School

Elsie Ripley Clapp and the Community School

(p.43) 3 Elsie Ripley Clapp and the Community School
The Arthurdale Community School

Sam F. Stack

University Press of Kentucky

Elsie Ripley Clapp was selected as the principal and director of community affairs for the Arthurdale project and its school. This chapter explores the background and intellectual development guiding her leadership goals and philosophy at Arthurdale. Clapp held a master’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University and had served as an assistant to the American philosopher John Dewey. She accepted Dewey’s pragmatism and philosophy of education and was considered one of the few experts in rural education in progressive education circles, although even her experience was limited. Her first experience in rural work was at the Ballard Memorial School near Louisville, Kentucky; she served there from 1929 to1934. Clapp was familiar with social welfare work and accepted the concept that the school could restore the loss of community clearly attributed, by federal planners and reformers, to the experience in the coal camps. Clapp’s understanding of progressive education and her philosophy of the community school are addressed as well as her attempt to apply Dewey’s philosophy of education in the new homestead community. She would be assisted by well-known educators such as Lucy Sprague Mitchell of Bank Street College, New York, who served on the National Advisory Committee for Arthurdale along with Dewey and others.

Keywords:   Elsie Clapp, Ballard Memorial School, Teachers College, Experience, Loss of community, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, Subsistence farming

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