Dan LloydFollow

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This essay was originally written for an online collection of articles on liberal arts in urban contexts, but it has not been formally published. The beginning and ending discuss community learning as a specific pedagogic approach in a liberal arts context. I've revised it for our retreat not to advocate for community service learning (though I do regard CL as a Good Thing), but rather to air the speculations about the nature of the liberal arts -- inspired by Hannah Arendt and John Dewey -- that arise in the latter part of the paper, beginning in section III (p. 6). In my opinion, much of the public discussion of higher education (for example, in Arum and Roksa's Academically Adrift) is distorted by a commodifiction of knowledge, where knowledge is regarded as a Thing that can be transferred from teacher to student (the "banking model" criticized by Paolo Freire), and where community is construed as a sort of container in which students and faculty are housed. The alternative Deweyan view focuses on the activities of discovery, learning, and common purpose which are shared by all participants in college life.