Mentor: Dr. Sarah Stitzlein, UNH Department of Education
Rethinking the Educative Process: John Dewey, Wendy Kopp, and the Indeterminate Situation of Education Inequity
To understand the mission of Teach for America and support its philosophy, we must first assess whether Wendy Kopp’s experiences were educative and had the power to grow. My project assesses how reasonable Kopp’s desired end of eliminating education inequity was based on her methods of inquiry and experience. Was her vision for ‘closing’ the achievement gap an impossible ambition? My research uses John Dewey's theory of Experience and Inquiry to assess and interpret Wendy Kopp's founding ideas behind Teach for America in an effort to make better judgments about the possibility of Teach for America and other programs that model its structure in the future. Dewey’s theory of Experience and Inquiry is the source for addressing these fundamental questions if we are to continue to support Teach For America with federal funding, political backing, and as a community that expects change in our education system. My research aims to look back at Wendy Kopp’s initiation of Teach for America to see if it demonstrates good inquiry and experience as Dewey describes them. I will be analyzing the following three works by Wendy Kopp: her 1989 senior thesis – An Argument and Plan for the Creation of the Teacher Corps, a subsequent piece entitled One Day, All Children, and her most recent publication, A Chance to Make History. These three works give us insight into the program of Teach for American, in particular: its creation, 10 years in, and its present.