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Takemoto, Patricia A.

The Clearing: The Growth and Survival of an American Adult Education Institution in the Danish Folk School Tradition

347 pages
Date created
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The Clearing is an independent residential school in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin which offers adult students a curriculum of non-credit courses in nature studies, folk craft, and the liberal and fine arts. The school was established in 1935 by Jens Jensen, a Danish-born landscape architect who gained international prominence for his prairie landscaping designs in the American Midwest. Jensen's educational philosophy combined aspects of the Danish Folk School model, progressive and rural populist education, and nature studies. The Clearing remains one of the rare successful American adult education adaptations of the Danish folk school model, and its survival is due to a combination of forces. Jensen's educational vision and his charismatic personality inspired a loyal following of managers and students; his progressive and populist philosophies attracted the support of faculty from regional universities and from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, a grass-roots agrarian organization. This study examined these disparate yet complimentary factors, and documented the creation of the school under Jensen and its subsequent growth under later resident managers. Using a schema proposed by management analyst G.L. Lippitt, The Clearing's phases of organizational development were divided into the stages of Creation, Survival, Stability, Reputation and Pride, and Uniqueness and Adaptability. This study has three goals: 1. To document the shaping of a unique American educational institution based on Danish Folk School principles. 2. To explain the successful evolution of the school according to the Lippitt model. 3. To illustrate some management principles that might assist other independent adult education schools in their operations.
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