Values and Goals
Local Learning connects folklorists, artists, and educators across the nation and advocates for the full inclusion of folklife and folk arts in education to transform learning, build intercultural understanding, and create stronger communities.
Local Learning began as the National Task Force for Folk Arts in Education during a 1993 folk arts roundtable at the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, the core activities and programs of Local Learning provide services to the field of Folk Arts in Education and support practitioners. We convene with the national arts service organizations of other disciplines to ensure a folk arts presence in national conversations and participate in the crafting of national policy and advocacy initiatives. We offer technical assistance, circulate news of the field through a variety of media and platforms, and provide professional development for educators, folk artists, and folklorists. Building on our work as a digital pioneer in folk arts with the founding of the CARTS (Cultural Arts Resources for Teachers and Students) newsletter and website in 1998, our flagship publication, the Journal of Folklore and Education (JFE), publishes work representing ethnographic approaches that tap the knowledge and life experience of students, their families, community members, and educators in K-16, higher education, museum, and community education. As a digital publication, JFE provides a forum for interdisciplinary, multimedia approaches to community-based teaching, learning, and cultural stewardship. Our audience includes educators and students at all levels and in all settings, as well as folk culture specialists.
In the fall of 2009, Local Learning received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to convene associates in Boise, Idaho, to assess the organization’s achievements and to develop a set of goals and objectives for meeting current challenges and moving effectively into the future. The review identified the following characteristics of folk arts in education (FAIE) that we should build upon in the future.
Strengths and Hallmarks of Folk Arts in Education Projects
- FAIE curricula are interdisciplinary and standards-based and meet state and locally established goals for educational achievement.
- FAIE programs are highly effective in bringing together multiple points of view and dealing with cultural and social complexities.
- Excitement among all parties in FAIE endeavors energizes the learning process and deeply engages participants.
- Folk arts and FAIE programs are both learner-centered and community-centered. They tap students’ knowledge and life experience as well as that of community members and teachers.
- The empathetic spirit and multiple points of view intrinsic in folk arts studies draw in all students comfortably.
- As students develop ethnographic skills, they also gain a sense of cultural stewardship and methods for achieving cultural sustainability.
- Inherently collaborative, FAIE programs stimulate creativity not only in students but also in teachers and other practitioners.
- Projects and research about their own traditions lead students through a process of self-discovery and help them to develop a greater sense of personal identity.
- The emphasis in folk arts upon authenticity, ethical interaction, and scholarly integrity elevates appreciation and respect for others’ cultures and for the study of culture.
- Folk arts study facilitates holistic learning systems and 21st-century skills by integrating literacy, mathematics, technology, the arts, social studies, science, and other disciplines.
- The study of folk arts helps students understand the important relationship of tradition and innovation in societal change as well as in their own lives.
- Both the practice of a folk art and participation in innovative methods of learning about them stimulate imagination and build problem-solving skills.
- Folk arts projects employ multiple intelligences and learning styles, making them very useful for a wide variety of learning situations.
- The field of folk arts and folklife study has developed replicable FAIE models and best practices all around the country.
The group recognized a need for more tools and methods for evaluating, elucidating, developing, and articulating the value and importance of folk arts and folk arts in education for academic learning and teaching and for building a stronger, more cohesive society and agreed upon the following plan to guide our work over the next three years.
Local Learning Goals and Objectives
Increase the visibility of the field of folk arts in education and recognition of its relevance to the broad range of educational endeavor.
- Develop “Local Learning” as a brand by using it consistently, creating materials for its dissemination, and partnering with related organizations and fields to promote it.
- Involve a broad network of practitioners of Local Learning in public presentations, projects, and advocacy efforts in a wider range of venues.
- Target publications of related fields for the inclusion of articles about folk arts and folk arts in education and reviews of FAIE resources.
- Identify higher education programs in a wide range of disciplines, including folklore, to provide with materials about folk arts education and its relevance to those fields.
- Prepare demonstrable models of programs to promote in a variety of venues and media.
- Articulate in accessible language the nature of our work and the relevance of folk arts in education to core curricula, standards-based learning, and 21st-century skills.
Conduct research to create information that will further solidify folk arts programs as an effective method of education and a tool for social justice.
- Identify existing assessment tools that can be adapted to assess and evaluate programs.
- Develop both quantitative and qualitative data collection forms and methods to better assess and evaluate programs.
- Analyze current FAIE models to assess their best uses and placement.
- Develop research projects that yield theoretical frameworks and identify where folk arts education dovetails with current educational theory and practice.
Develop partnerships and dialogue with an expanded range of potential partners.
- Identify new prospective partners and develop specific strategies for reaching out to and communicating with them.
- Develop opportunities for folklorists to learn more about the field of education, its theories, history, and practice.
- Identify additional venues and funders for Local Learning programs, publications, and research.
- Tag online materials for access by practitioners in other fields.
Sustain and support those who are working in folk arts education.
- Seek funding for a technical assistance grant program.
- Create a listserve for practitioners on the Local Learning web site.
- Develop opportunities for folklorists to learn new technologies that can be incorporated into their programs.
- Organize forums to assist folklorists in developing curricula for education courses at the university level.
- Seek and create opportunities to inform and instruct folklore students and education students about Local Learning.
- Make a wide variety of materials available on the Local Learning web site, including lesson plans, research results, scholarly articles, and regional resources, with a new emphasis on technology-based projects.
- Expand opportunities and professional development for folk artists, folklorists, and other cultural specialists.
- Provide materials and support for more professional development programs and opportunities for a wider audience, such as museum educators, arts in education practitioners, and out-of-school programs as well as K-12 educators.
- Facilitate discussion among Local Learning practitioners about the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of our practice.
The associates of Local Learning recognize that the achievement of this plan requires the participation of many advocates for and practitioners of folk arts education. We invite you to join with us in the effort. Add your name to the Local Learning mailing list. Join the Local Learning listserve. Send us your ideas and questions. Share your work with us and the Journal of Folklore and Education. Ask us how you can advance Local Learning initiatives in your region. Our collective efforts can further the incorporation of Local Learning at all levels around the nation.