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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.

«‘Elsie Ripley Clapp (1879-1965): Her Life and the Community School’ by Sam F. Stack, Jr. offers us an illuminating entrance not only into Clapp’s life, work, and thought but also into a period of educational transition that is frequently studied but often misunderstood. We are indebted to him for his balanced and thorough research as well as his telling the story of Clapp’s work, especially her emphasis on community and schooling. No doubt his research will become the standard work on her for decades to come and serve as a model for writing an educational biography.» (Douglas J. Simpson, Professor and Helen DeVitt Jones Chair, College of Education, Texas Tech University)