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For Teachers, Folklorists, Academics, and Beyond

Folk arts contribute not only to students’ understanding of cultural traditions but also to their ability to think critically, gather and analyze evidence, and express their ideas and interpretations through personal creativity. Folklife and the tools of the folklorist can support learning in all subjects, including the arts. Folk arts are uniquely suited to explore the ways in which traditional art forms reflect the history, culture, geography, and values of different cultures and communities.

Everyone has folk traditions — expressive customs practiced within a group and passed along by word of mouth, imitation, and observation. Calling on the work of folklorists and the field of folklore in the classroom educates, motivates, engages, and fosters the creative expression of students and powerfully links them to their communities. Integrating the study of folk arts into existing curricula awakens self-awareness in students of their own roles as tradition bearers, their families as repositories of traditional culture and history, and their communities as unique resources.

(Text above adapted from: Local Learning: A Folk Arts Integration Handbook)

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Research and Readings

Walk in Another’s Shoes

“The trim, silver-haired man sits ramrod straight, a legacy of his former military training. Sitting close by, not quite as still or straight, his eight-year-old Swapping Stories partner’s smile reflects his own. After the storytelling session, the former Mr. America finalist states, ‘Even though there’s a 75-year difference in our ages, we’ve had very similar […]

A Community Celebration Of Place

A program brings rural Alabama communities together when students interview community elders and get the stories to music.

A Patchwork of Our Lives: Oral History Quilts in Intercultural Education

How oral history can help young people develop intercultural and intergenerational competencies.

Among Folk: Using Folklife To Build Partnerships With Students And Their Families

A folklife curriculum bridges the generational gap between students, parents, and grandparents and aids in student’s quest for their own identity.