Folk Schools

Joe Jackson (
Sat, 24 Jan 1998 16:36:56 -0500


I went to your web site and read your essay on the Highlander
School and found it fascinating. Excellent work!!

The lack of tests and age segregation seem to bear similarities
to the Sudbury model. However, I am curious; apparently the
"subject matter" that folk schools focus on (e.g. oppressive sit-
uations, social issues, celebrating culture and life) seem to be
moderately specific. This makes me think that students there must
not have quite the same degree of freedom of choice as they do
in a Sudbury School. If they do have the freedom to do what they
want and the staff is not "steering" or "leading them" into discus-
sions, how is the Highlander School able to predict that students
will focus on these particular types of issues?

Joe Jackson

> From: Robin Martin <roses9@IDT.NET>
> To:
> Subject: Re: other learning communities...
> Date: Friday, January 23, 1998 12:53 PM
> At 10:52 PM 1/22/98 -0600, you wrote:
> >What are Folk Schools for adults? Are there such things for kids?
> >
> Folk schools are a movement tied to popular education (popular in the
> that it is for, of, & by the people). The most well-known one in this
> country is Highlander Folk School, in Tennessee, started by Miles Horton,
> whose philosophies & approaches to education are quite similar to Paulo
> Friere (another well-known name in popular education).
> Folk/popular/emanicipatory education (whatever you want to call it!) is a
> radical paradigm shift in viewing what education and learning ought to be
> about. In a little sheet I have put out by the Folk Education
> of America (printed at Goddard College no less), it says: "Folkd
> is learning that happens when individuals and communities come together
> celebrate culture and life, to critically analyze challenging, especially
> oppressive situations, to build a knowledge base and apply that knowledge
> to reframe and create alternative possibilities for the institutions in
> which we live and work."
> Although this form of education focuses more on learning about oppressive
> situations & social issues, the "form" it takes in allowing the learners
> initiate & guide the directions that it takes is quite similar to
> democratic schools. Plus, community & holistic learning is very much a
> central aspect of what it's all about, as well as learning that is
> RELEVANT to the learners.
> I recently wrote a paper on shifts in the conception of "program
> as related to folk education, which I posted at:
> --if you're interested in learning more about it.
> Oh, and as far as "for kids," the Connecticut Valley Community Folk
> Schools, I beleive, are for youth as well as adults, but most folk
> tend to attract adults. Plus, folk schools aren't usually regular
> day-to-day meetings; they're more like a group of people who choose to
> together now and then.
> Robin