Culture, Community, and the Classroom applies in any subject area K-12. The workshop explores culturally responsive, engaged learning through local traditional arts. It introduces concepts of cultural identity and opportunities to practice ethnographic research skills such as interviewing, note taking, and sketching. The workshop offers educators a widening perspective of their own cultural identity and models for their students to explore their cultural identity authentically. How does one’s knowledge of their cultural identity influence their learning?
“…I definitely benefited as a teacher and personally – it was a very focused, intentional and well-planned workshop. Great tools and activities! One of the best workshops I’ve ever participated in!”
–2021 Teacher Evaluation
“I am so grateful that I signed up for this workshop because I learned so much about my community and how to incorporate culture into my classroom. I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop.”
-2020 Teacher Evaluation
“Through art I learned to speak and write in English, language of the land of my birth, and art guided me into this new American culture whose ways and language seemed so different from those of my own Puerto Rican roots. As a young man art became a tool to explore myself and my world and became a vehicle for my political expression. Art is the path to my ancestral heritage and the road to my universal connection with all peoples and cultures.”
-George Zavala, CCC facilitator
For over 25 years Local Learning has provided services to the field of Folk Arts in Education, offering training nationwide. Our New York State series Culture, Community, and the Classroom builds the capacity of excellent local host organizations, teaching artists, and educators for sustainability.
Teachers will discover how traditional arts and culture can be assets in your classroom, build inclusive learning plans with proven tools for student engagement, and learn with a cohort model that centers teachers’ expertise.
Folk artists will build your portfolios and gain methods for teaching about your art forms and their context to diverse students of all ages.
Folk and traditional arts are found in every community. Study of traditional arts and their creators contributes not only to students’ understanding of culture and community, but also to their ability to think critically, gather and analyze evidence, and express their ideas and interpretations through personal creativity.
All Educators and Folk Artists are welcome to register for the workshop until space is filled. Additionally, 8 educators will have the opportunity to host a traditional artist for 2 days in your school or online in the fall of 2022 at no cost to you (indicate your interest when you sign up). Participating mini-residency artists represent local traditions of the region. All Corning/Elmira participants are invited to a follow-up showcase November 19, 2022, at the Rockwell Museum. All Mid-Hudson participants, the showcase is TBD. For questions and inquires, contact Mira Johnson at NYnetwork@locallearningnetwork.org.
OBJECTIVES: Our measurable learning objectives of the goals above reflect what participants will know and be able to do as a result of this professional development training. Teachers, Museum Educators, and Artists will…
- Define folk arts and folklife through uncovering personal and local traditions;
- Practice using ethnographic tools of folklife such as interviewing, note taking, sketching, and mapping;
- Demonstrate their own cultural knowledge through creative activities that they can replicate in the classroom so students can explore their cultural identity;
- Examine the ethical considerations of representing diverse cultures in a classroom;
- Practice how to moderate “tough” conversations that folk arts activities may provoke (race, class, immigration status, family crisis);
- Access local and national interdisciplinary resources for artists and educators to integrate folk arts into classroom curricula and activities;
- Connect local folk arts traditions and research (ethnography) to education standards;
- Phase 2 educators and artists will create a classroom-ready lesson plan that uses the materials and knowledge collected through a Local Learning discovery process.
Workshop faculty will include highly experienced folklorists and teaching artists who will lead hands-on sessions in interdisciplinary activities easily replicated in K-12 and museum teaching. (Meet the Faculty)
Participants will use and receive resources produced by Local Learning, City Lore, and other folk arts education organizations around the country. (Browse Selected Resources)
The workshop facilitators include national and state curriculum experts, master teachers, and museum educators. The Corning/Elmira (C/E) and Mid-Hudson (M-H) workshop facilitators are indicated at the end of each bio.
Paddy Bowman is founding director of Local Learning and co-edits the Journal of Folklore and Education. K-12 teachers, community scholars, and arts administrators around the nation have benefited from her ability to connect non-folklorists with our discipline. Her influential university courses and professional development training programs in folklore for educators around the country, implementation of model school-based projects, authorship of seminal publications, and development of online and off-line curricular materials have significantly extended the reach of folklore to hundreds of teachers and thousands of students throughout the United States. She co-edited Through the Schoolhouse Door: Folklore, Community, Curriculum (2011) and co-wrote a chapter in Folklife and Museums. She was awarded the 2013 American Folklore Society Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Public Folklore and in 2016 was named a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. She has an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina. (C/E, M-H)
Karen Canning is the founding Director GLOW Traditions, a regional traditional arts and folklife program for Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties in western New York. The program was established in 1997 as a shared program by the counties’ arts councils. She frequently collaborates with community, educational, business and civic entities to document and present diverse folk arts of our region such as Hispanic holiday traditions, American folk music, world dance traditions, Native American arts, and occupational folklore. Canning’s work as a visiting folklorist educator in schools includes residencies and presentations of Mexican holiday traditions, traditional American music and dance, Trinidadian steel band music and history, and occupational folklore of a local salt mine. She has developed school residencies with regional tradition bearers representing diverse ethnic backgrounds, in music, dance and foodways. (C/E)
Tamarah Fernandez-Bridgewater is an artist, community advocate, instructor and professional based in New York’s Westchester County area. Aside from creating her own art, she curates curriculum and proposals for community based programming, events, activities and professional development workshops and seminars. She also teaches creative workshops sharing basic artistic techniques, STEAM inspired lessons and culturally diverse seminars. Tamarah is owner and operator of ArtinaBoxCo., where she provides workshops and lessons in the community, collaborating with school districts, community organizers, and businesses concerned with creatively engaging the community at large, ranging from individual art and hands-on lessons to group projects at public events. As Co-Founder of ENUBuilds Inc., for the past five years, with her business partner, Tamarah has supported her community through this initiative focusing on youth, families and community, working with organizations, business and municipalities to recognize and address needs and provide a platform and assistance to the underserved and unrecognized. (M-H)
Elinor Levy joined Arts-Mid Hudson in September 2016 as the Folk Arts Program manager. A native of Oakland, California, she bounced around the country from California to Indiana, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and now New York. Levy worked in Las Vegas as the folklorist for Clark County Parks and Recreation and as executive director of the Northwest Jersey Folklife Project. She is also a folk artist as a third generation knitter on her maternal side. Now immersed in the Mid-Hudson Valley, she notes: “My family, going back several generations, have always been supporters of the arts. With that tradition and being a folklorist, through each program I participate in, whether it is a concert, a community festival or a workshop, I gain a better understanding of the world I live in.” (M-H)
T.C. Owens is the Folk Arts Coordinator at The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. As a folklorist and videographer, for the past decade he has worked collaboratively to document, preserve and present the vital traditions of everyday people and their communities. He holds an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has worked at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, Media Mobilizing Project, and as a contract folklorist for the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He is also a director and producer of the documentary short, Our Side: The Other Atlantic City. (C/E)
Lisa Rathje is Executive Director of Local Learning. She has directed in- and out-of-school programs and written curricula for diverse learning environments. She co-edits the Journal of Folklore and Education and serves on the Arts Education Partnership Equity Advisory Group and Higher Education Working Group. She was a facilitator for organizations such as the Center for Integrated Arts Education and the Community Works Institute on service learning, among others. She also has multiple film and print publications. (C/E, M-H)
George Zavala recently moved from New York City to the Southern Tier. He practices a number of art forms and has been a teaching artist with folk arts organizations such as City Lore and Mind-Builders. “Since my early childhood I have been drawn to art and have always been fascinated by the diverse and unique forms through which it communicates. Through art I learned to speak and write in English, language of the land of my birth, and art guided me into this new American culture whose ways and language seemed so different from those of my own Puerto Rican roots. As a young man art became a tool to explore myself and my world and became a vehicle for my political expression. Art is the path to my ancestral heritage and the road to my universal connection with all peoples and cultures.” (C/E)
Use the Seasonal Round lesson plan to introduce students to your classroom or school culture, as well as their own. Students can learn about themselves, their families, their region, and the world by examining the seasonal round. Find templates and the plan at the link.
American Folklife: A Commonwealth of Cultures
by Mary Hufford
Folklife is community life and values, artfully expressed in myriad interactions. It is universal, diverse, and enduring. It enriches the nation and makes us a commonwealth of cultures. The traditional knowledge and skills required to make a pie crust, plant a garden, arrange a birthday party, or turn a lathe are exchanged in the course of daily living and learned by imitation. It is not simply skills that are transferred in such interactions, but notions about the proper ways to be human at a particular time and place. Whether sung or told, enacted or crafted, traditions are the outcroppings of deep lodes of worldview, knowledge, and wisdom, navigational aids in an ever-fluctuating social world.
Artists’ Letters to Students
by Amanda Dargan
A key challenge for folk artists is how to teach their art in a way that respects the tradition and the cultural values it embodies. How can we convey the complexity of a cultural tradition and make it accessible for even very young students?
An Accessible Aesthetic: The Role of Folk Arts and the Folk Artist in the Curriculum
by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Originally published in New York Folklore: The Journal of the New York Folklore Society
9:3-4 (Winter 1983), pp.9-18.
Folk arts bear witness to the powers of informal learning. Basket making, traditional singing, storytelling, wit and humor in conversation, needlework, cooking, games, and pastimes —these skills are learned in the academies of the street, home, the park, the woods. And the masters are the people rooted in community and history. They acquire their skills for the most part informally from others, and with those skills they acquire deeply felt values, standards of excellence, and a resonant sense of who they are and where they are.
Folklife Education: A Warm Welcome Schools Extend to Communities
by Linda Deafenbaugh
Increasing student participation in school by tapping into their community knowledge supports students’ cultural competency and can positively affect academic achievement.
Local Learning: A Folk Arts Integration Handbook
by Paddy Bowman
Folk arts manifest ways in which the arts enrich our daily lives, dignify our communities, and define our cultural heritage. Every community is blessed with a broad spectrum of folk arts and traditions offering educators an important opportunity to enrich their teaching. Folk artists give students an opportunity to learn with artists who look and sound like themselves, their families, and community members. Students enthusiastically respond to the content of folklore, such as stories, music, dance, crafts, customs, and foodways. They readily embrace folklorists’ methods of collecting and preserving primary sources through observing, interviewing, listening, recording, writing, sketching, mapping, categorizing, quantifying, and analyzing findings. Students also acquire new perspectives about themselves, their culture, and the culture of others. By seeing the continuation of traditions, students tie the past to the present and use and create primary resources.
Other worksheets referenced during the Professional Development:
Cultural Assumptions, Ethnocentrism, Stereotyping: We look at the world through the lens of our cultural assumptions, often unaware that we are viewing things differently from how others do. Doesn’t everybody do this or think that? Read More…
Defining Cultural Processes Read more about how we define cultural processes and access the Venn Diagram for envisioning the cultural mix.
Access more on interviewing, including some worksheets, recommended interviewing guides, and more in our Local Learning Toolbox.
Like our Postcard Museum activity? Learn more here.
We are grateful to our Corning/Elmira local colleagues Amy Ruza, Mary Mix, George Zavala, Karen Canning, and T.C. Owens, and our Mid-Hudson local colleagues Tamarah Fernandez-Bridgewater, Julia Gutierrez, and Elinor Levy for their help in planning this professional development series. We want to acknowledge the support of Ellen McHale and New York Folklore, Go-ART!/GLOW Traditions, The Rockwell Museum, The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, Arts Mid-Hudson, and Stacie Harris at the Greater Southern Tier Teacher Center.
Also, these funders have made it possible to offer this as a free professional development opportunity for teachers and artists: The National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and individual donors to Local Learning.
Local Learning’s programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.