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Elsie Ripley Clapp (1879-1965)

Her Life and the Community School


Sam F. Stack , Jr.

This biography chronicles the life and teaching practices of Elsie Ripley Clapp, one of the most significant female leaders in progressive education. Clapp’s greatest contribution to American education is the community school, a place for self-realization, caring, cooperation, and cultural enrichment as well as the cornerstone of democratic society. Challenging the practices of contemporary education in her era, she envisioned pedagogy as the integration of living and learning, building upon local resources and the experiences of students and their community. Learning was more than training or the acquisition of knowledge, it was a form of communal sharing. Agreeing with her mentor John Dewey, a true education was more of a journey than arrival at a specific destination. This book explores Clapp’s personal journey, her triumphs and her failures.