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Venturing Beyond the School
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March 24, 2017
Green Teacher
Lucy Sprague Mitchell, founder of Bank Street College of Education in New York City, led many groups of aspiring teachers onto the streets of New York to model how they might use the urban environment as an essential aspect of their curriculum for children. Here Mitchell (center) is directing students’ attention to aspects of a new building being constructed. A student, who is among the group (Class of 1944) said, “When Lucy Sprague Mitchell took us out onto the streets of New York, we felt the joy of being alive.“

FOR LUCY SPRAGUE MITCHELL, the founder of Bank Street College in New York City, education was larger than the school building and greater than the book. Mitchell, who taught student teachers at Bank Street from 1930 to the early 1950s, believed that education should move the student outwards—physically and socially as well as intellectually and that education should be based on person-to-person relationships.

The person-to-person relationships Lucy Sprague Mitchell believed were critical to a child’s education included the people in their immediate world. Some of whom they might see everyday, yet remain in the background—the workers whose work sustains children and their families. It was not the stereotypic, “The Postman is our friend” variety, with which, unfortunately, many of us are too familiar. It was rather a study that enables children to relate the work of actual people and the ever-larger chains of interdependence.


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