Folk Arts in Education


Folk Arts in Education Handbook - for Parents, Teachers, etc.

The power of student ownership of real research and fieldwork is hard to overstate.

"Folk Arts in Education: A Resource Handbook II examines the state of folklife and folk arts in education projects around the U.S. with sample curricula from over 50 exemplary programs for youth in educational settings in K-12 schools, youth-serving organizations arts and humanities councils, museums, and cultural heritage and folk arts nonprofit organizations.
Folklife programs in schools and after-school programs bring young people in touch with their communities, their ethnic identities, the authentic cultural expressions of their own families and others through direct participation and ethnographic methods using photography, video, radio, audio recordings, exhibitions, festival, and residencies with tradition-bearers.

Foxfire came up with a list of classroom practices that they encouraged teachers to apply to subjects other than English and projects other than oral history and publishing. These included democratic classrooms, small group learning, peer teaching, project based learning, community connections, real world outcomes, evaluation, and assessment. Foxfire carries on as a small organization in its original location in Rabun County Georgia, with more than 100 acres of cabins and mountain artifacts on Black Rock Mountain.

Guha Shankar Guha Shankar <gshankar[at]LOC.GOV> Montana Heritage Project in AZ
Aimed at K-12 educators who wanted to implement a service learning, place-based teaching and learning program, the AHP numbered about  7 schools in the first years of the initiative. AFC staff - myself and Maggie Kruesi - led several workshops on imparting ethnographic methods in the classroom for three summers (ca. 2004-06), with a primary focus on oral history collecting and public presentations.
During and after AFC's involvement (which ended in 2008) one of those schools, Cactus Shadows in Cave Creek, and their indefatigable and dynamite teacher/adviser, Barbara Hatch, began producing a hardcover publication with student interviews of veterans in and around the state, called "Since You Asked: Arizona Veterans Share their Memories". Its still going strong and has now morphed into a state wide Veterans history project the state -


TIP Models for local / regional folklife projects

WPA-like projects w federal funds.

A WPA-type ethnography of national life. Those state guides, photographic archives, foodways collections, and other documents of the 1930s and 1940s have been invaluable in my fieldwork and teaching, and I'm sure others have similar experiences. Now is a good time to 'update' them and also employ many who have lost jobs or contracts because of the current situation and its economic ramifications. The state guides are such fun to consult when travelling (especially by car) and are a wealth of information of what has changed and what hasn't. As archaeologists say, forward into the past!

Work Programs


TIP Folk Arts in State Agencies


Folklorists who offer workshops should also offer in-service continuing education credit which is key to educators’ attendance.

Born Digital: Since 1996 we have allowed the public to submit their K12 School website and edit their contact information. Founded on the belief that it is the intersections that bring the reason for authentic community to exist, the connects the educators and community leaders, with a passion to collaborate, across disciplines and communities for the common good and the common wealth of the nation. We wish to support Folklorists who will lead K12 projects that help keep the human in the humanities.

  • AFS Folklore and Education Section
    A blog for new resources in folklore and education. Posts entries that tie into the work of folklore and education. This can include the Pre-K to secondary focus that we've used in the past, but we're also interested in areas like museum education, live-long learning, and other endeavors that are relevant to teaching about folklore.
  • Folk Arts Partnership, contact the Folk & Traditional Arts staff: Clifford Murphy at or 202/682-5726, or Cheryl Schiele at or 202/682-5587.
  • Folk & Traditional Arts Contact Folk & Traditional Arts (including folk & traditional arts projects in any art form): William Mansfield, or 202/682-5678
  • Local Arts Agencies should consult with Lara Holman Garritano, or 202/682-5586 for Arts Education or Folk & Traditional arts project applications.
  • American Folklore Society: Folklore & Education Section Newsletter
  • Open Folklore the teaching resources bank
    The same instructions apply to all material, including all AFS "Gray Literature," that is housed in the IUScholarworks Repository.

  • Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education facilitates K-12 teachers' and teacher educators' use of folklore and folkloristic approaches in their classrooms through national advocacy, publications, teacher training, and extensive online resources.

  • Bibliography: Essential Texts for Folklore and Education

  • Heritage Studies at AFS 2012 by Gregory Hansen 
    Heritage Studies is a new movement in academe that blends scholarship from folklore, anthropology, history, literary/cultural studies, museum studies, and other disciplines into an interdisciplinary field. This new approach focuses less on heritage as an element of the past and more on heritage's relation to the present.

Folk Arts in Education: Michigan State Museum


TIP Folklife Magazine - Article by Betty Belanus

The idea of cultural appropriation is not valid.
Culture is appropriation. That is all that culture is.
Appropriation from your neighbor, your mother, that man in the market.
Appropriation from those who came before, the builders, the remembered.
Civilization is open source.

Every Culture Appropriates
The question is less whether a dress or an idea is borrowed, than the uses to which it’s then put ~ David Frum 5/8/18


TIP Learn About The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress

Alan Jabboor announces the permanent authorization of the American Folklife Center
H.R. 4112 signed by President Clinton 1998

Smithsonian Folklife - The Staff working for our Nation's Attic!

  • Cultural Research and Education at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
    Encompasses scholarly and collaborative  research, the development of resources for schools and educators, professional training, and the  production of books, documentaries, recordings, and multimedia materials.
  • Folkways: Free Resources for the Classroom
    Find world music curricular experiences from the Smithsonian Folkway's Network of Music Educators. All lessons can be downloaded in PDF format.
  • The Community Scholars Program
    Started with the “idea to bring people the how to’s of folk research. The community scholars program, has its roots in a national project started by the Smithsonian Institute in the 1990's.  Kentucky Folklife Program began its own community scholar’s program in 2001.
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival  
    “It’s important to share culture because, as much as we know about each other, we still have a lot to learn. In my more cynical moments, I realize that it really is a matter of life and death. We’re exploring the stories of people who are moving across this world, and they have nothing. They’re leaving war. To think about it, culture is a way to sustain people in the worst times, and culture is a way to lift us up in our best times." ~ Director Sabrina Lynn Motley
  • American Folklife Center Blog 
    Folklife Today is a blog for people interested in folklore, folklife, and oral history. We’ll feature brief articles on folklife topics, highlighting the unparalleled collections of the Library of Congress, especially the American Folklife Center and the Veterans History Project.
    Teachers / Teaching