Experiential Learning in a Kitchen Classroom

Are you a teacher, instructor, or faculty member looking for a unique, hands-on summer workshop that will offer a new approach to teaching? Or, have you ever been curious about the intersection of food, philosophy and teaching, and are interested in exploring a new approach to experiential learning?

The University of Vermont offers a 3-day, on-campus workshop – the John Dewey Kitchen Institute – and applies John Dewey’s philosophy into our kitchen lab, as a way to emphasize experiential education, as an important pedagogical approach for teaching any subject.  We draw from John Dewey’s philosophy of education and epistemology (theory of knowing) to inspire and guide our work together. The in-kitchen workshop includes hands-on cooking and enjoying 3 meals, beer and wine tasting.  Prior to the start of the workshop, you will gain access to online resources where you can connect with fellow participants and review Dewey’s tenets, philosophy, and practices.

The John Dewey Philosophy

Founded by John Dewey, the original Dewey School formed in the early 1900’s, 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.  Cooking, to Dewey, 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.  We modeled our John Dewey Institute workshop after these founding principles.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Gain an understanding of the complex dynamics of practical and theoretical learning within an experiential setting.
  • Learn strategies for incorporating the Dewey Tenets into your teaching.
  • Experience cooking, tasting, and eating as a way to learn about inquiry.
  • Develop critical-thinking exercises that you can apply in the classroom.

Student Testimonials

This was one of the best PD opportunities that I have attended in terms of understanding a theoretical framework that I could bring back into the classroom to help enrich some of my teaching practices and student learning. I was so impressed by the delivery and structure of the course material as well as the knowledge that was shared. JDKI is an exemplary model of merging theory with practice.
– Kathy Lara, 2019

Dr. Belliveau definitely shows “mastery” (her preferred term) of the material, and she is a gifted facilitator whose methods of including all the voices at the table should be learned by every instructor! I also appreciated her thoughtful, deft,  and wise demeanor. Dr. Heldke is the best sort of philosopher: engaging, insightful, humble, inclusive. As much as she offers important resources for participants, it is clear that she herself is open to learning from those in the room. Facilitating is hard work, but almost invisible labor when done well. Not everyone is good at it. Dr. Belliveau and Heldke are very, very good at it! Thanks for the opportunity to pair things I’m comfortable doing (thinking about education and democracy) with things I’m not always comfortable doing (cooking in front of others). It was a very powerful experience!
– Kristin Novotny, 2019