In the Spirit of John Dewey, Students Learn by Doing in the Kitchen

The UVM John Dewey Kitchen Institute is not about learning to cook, but cooking to learn.

Taught by UVM Continuing and Distance Education Dean Cynthia Belliveau and Dewey scholar Lisa Heldke, the program emphasizes the pedagogical power of the kitchen. Students from around the country come to UVM to learn how to use cooking to teach any topic within a framework of collaboration and cooperation.

uvm kitchen institute

Dewey, a noted a philosopher and educator, was born in Burlington and earned his undergraduate degree from UVM in 1879. He believed that food was a central vehicle for teaching critical, intuitive thinking, and unifying knowledge with experience. His main approach to teaching was “learning by doing.”

The original Dewey School, founded by Dewey, was formed in the early 1900s and was an experimental laboratory of education, which included a kitchen lab.  The Dewey School tenets included education as a practice of democracy and learning by doing.

For Dewey, cooking was a central vehicle for teaching critical and intuitive thinking and unifying knowledge with experience.  The Dewey School teachers believed that cooking, eating, and conversing in a social setting were key ingredients for educating young members of society into a life of inquiry and community participation.

uvm kitchen institute
Continuing and Distance Education Cynthia Belliveau teaches the John Dewey Kitchen Institute with Lisa Heldke.

Belliveau and Heldke modeled the UVM Institute after these founding principles. The in-kitchen workshop includes hands-on cooking and enjoying three meals, as well as a beer and wine tasting.

“John Dewey is basically heralded as the educator’s educator,” says Belliveau. “Dewey’s overall philosophy was to create thriving democracies, and today it’s critically important to remember that. The Institute is a place where you can live and breathe cooperation, and democracy is all about inquiry and asking the next question.”

The three-day John Dewey Institute is June 23-25, 2019 at UVM.

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