“A thrilling book” Joseph Featherstone, professor of education, University of Michigan

Table of Contents


• Preface: "Everyone Should Know How to Sew a Button"

• Introduction

This eager interviewer learned about what the bridge engineer was doing on top of the bridge tower. (From Chapter 2, bridge study.)

Part One: Teachers “Experimenting with the World”

Part One illustrates how a teacher’s active learning process can profoundly influence a child’s. The section follows three public school teachers at different points in their careers, working in different settings, and teaching different topics to different grades, as they research and teach a social studies curriculum based on the children’s social and physical environment.

1. “Slavery was a Business!”

2. “Could We Build a Poem Like a Bridge?”

3. “I Didn’t Even Know There was a River”

4. Three Teachers Honoring Children’s Environment

The graduate students on the 1941 “long trip” experienced mixed emotions as they approached the coalmine elevator. (From Chapter 6, long trips past and present.)

Part Two: “An Education in What America Is, What It Could Be”

Part Two traces the sources of the learning and teaching described in Part One. It moves into the past to examine a unique chapter in teacher education history, when an explicit connection was made between the education of a teacher and the future of a democratic society. This history is made accessible to educators today and its relevance examined. Throughout, the narrative moves back and forward in time to illustrate, through current examples, how powerful this form of education can be today.

5. “We Went on Trips Morning, Noon, and Night”

6. “A Way of Feeling into Another’s Life”

7. Participants in a World More Vast, Yet Less Remote

Graduate students seeing the fledgling oyster beds raised from their home in the Hudson River. (From Chapter 9, boat basin trip.)

Part Three: Staying Vulnerable

Part Three examines the ways in which I experimented with offering adult students opportunities to experience the world around them as an important part of their becoming teachers—and the impact.

8. A Modest Experiment

9. A Less Modest Experiment


• Conclusion: “This Going Off Together, There’s Something to It”

• Appendix: Itineraries of Old and New Long Trips