A young child and father play with blocks at Richfield Early Childhood Education

100 Years of History

The concept of schools being a center of community life goes back a century in the United States. Progressive educators of the time, including John Dewey, Jane Addams and urban planner Clarence Perry, first envisioned the model of schools that serve as the center of neighborhood social life and the agent of neighborhood-based social services, while also educating children. In response to the social disruption of American life with the coming of the industrial age, community-based education provided a source for creating both social cohesion and improving the lives of community residents.

The “lighted schoolhouses” of Flint, Michigan, provided the next evolution of community education in the 1930s. Under the name Community Education, these programs were developed to serve children and working parents in the evenings. This became a model throughout the country. Principles taught in Community Education trainings then are still in use today:

  • Citizen involvement in community problem-solving and decision making—citizens have a right and a responsibility to be involved in determining community needs and in linking those needs and resources to improve the community;
  • Lifelong learning opportunities for learners of all ages, backgrounds and needs;
  • Use of community resources in the schooling/education curriculum;
  • Opportunities for parents to become involved in the learning process of their children and the life of the school;
  • Optimum use of public education facilities by people of all ages;
  • Coordination and collaboration among agencies and institutions;
  • Partnerships with business, industry, and schools; Everyone shares responsibility for educating all members of the community
  • Utilization of volunteers to enhance the delivery of community services.

The role of community education in building a literate and educated society has been critical in the history of our country. Today, the societal upheavals of the information age are as profound as those of the industrial revolution, and the need for community education as a resource and center of community life and learning is just as great.

Source: LERN blog

Landing Nav