Folklife & Folk Art Education Resource Guide
Introduction & Purpose
Utah is an amazing state, filled with fascinating people from diverse ethnic, religious, occupational and regional "folk groups." Each of these groups has long standing expressive traditions that teach and help mold the character, aesthetics, goals, ideals, taboos, and learning patterns of the folks in their group. We all know and learn the traditions (gestures, foodways, celebrations, naming patterns, and attitudes, to name a few) of the groups we belong to, but we are often confused by or misinterpret the expressive traditions of other groups. Also, although we understand our own traditions, we don't often have cause to share that information with folks outside our own folk group.
Most children are effective learners in their "folk classrooms," (home, neighborhood, ethnic group, church) but at times these same children have difficulties at school. Many times the learning techniques at home are much different than those at school and the child is unable to comprehend (in the beginning) the new rules, teaching styles, and requirements for public school. Folklife education is a process for incorporating community traditions and learning styles in the academic classroom. Because everyone has folklore, no one is left out: all students have an opportunity to excel, to be an "expert." As well, because the classroom is a model for society, students who are exposed to folklife education learn to discuss and appreciate the differences of others in a creative and safe environment. Folklife education is a natural compliment to other areas of instruction, such as social studies, art, history, literature, physical education, mathematics, etc. By learning about folklife and folk art students may:
- experience academic success and thereby increase academic self esteem;
- appreciate/gain respect for the traditions and values of self and others;
- feel cultural pride;
- incorporate life experiences with classroom instruction;
- become aware of community tradition bearers/resources;
- appreciate the diverse learning techniques and styles used by folk groups;
- become aware of the influence folklife and folk art have on all aspects of life and therefore on all academic disciplines;
- transfer appreciation of folk art to fine arts and vice versa.
In this resource guide you will find:
- introductory information to folklore (folklife);
- techniques for identifying and including community traditions and tradition bearers in the classroom;
- a folklife and folk art bibliography;
- lesson plans that incorporate folklife and folk art education in the classroom and state core curricula.
R. Williams, USU, 2001