Experiential Learning in the Kitchen

Are you a teacher, instructor, or faculty member looking for a unique summer workshop that will offer a new approach to teaching? Have you ever thought about using food and cooking to do experiential learning? Would you be interested in exploring a theoretical approach to doing so?

The University of Vermont offers a 4-week, online self-paced program – Democracy in the Kitchen: John Dewey’s Education through Cooking and Eating (aka JDKI) – The course brings philosopher John Dewey’s pedagogy to the kitchen introducing an experiential education model that can be adapted to many subjects. We draw from John Dewey’s philosophy of education and epistemology (theory of knowing) to inspire and guide our work together. Prior to the start of the workshop, you will have access to online course resources, including the tenets and philosophy of this “kitchen inquiry.” You’ll also be able to connect with other course participants.

John Dewey’s Philosophy of Education

Founded by John Dewey, the original Dewey School formed in the early 1900’s at the University of Chicago, was an experimental laboratory of education and included a kitchen lab.  The Dewey School was grounded in principles that included education as a practice of democracy and learning through doing.  Cooking, to Dewey, was one of the central vehicles 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 Democracy in the Kitchen: John Dewey’s Education Through Cooking and Eating workshop on these principles.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Explore complex and indivisible interaction between practical and theoretical learning.
  • Use an experiential learning setting to focus on cooking and eating.
  • Examine the JDKI tenets of Deweyan inquiry and plan how to incorporate them into your own teaching and learning.
  • Practice cooking, tasting and eating as forms of inquiry.


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