Folk schools: slow education for fast times
Lee, Devon E.
Master of Education
SubjectTeaching and learning in a Folk School
Legacy of Folk Schools
North American Folk Schools past and present
Modern Folk Schools
MetadataShow full item record
Folk schools are an enduring vision of nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Nikolai Severin Grundtvig. These schools for life offer non-competitive, non-vocational, residential, youth and adult education. This thesis explores the historical and contemporary folk schools of the United States and Canada, addressing a lack of scholarly writing on North American folk schools. It is framed by the question, “What is the past and present state of folk schooling in the United States and Canada with respect to people, pedagogy, philosophy, and place; and what opportunities exist for folk schools to enact social change in today’s world?” First I address the context from which this research arises: the history of folk schools. A review of the literature examines folk schools in national struggles for identity, and the lasting impacts of folk schooling in Scandinavia and in America. In the United States, the effect of folk schooling is apparent in contributions to the Craft Revival, Labour, and Civil Rights movements. The literature review also creates scholarly consensus around what constitutes a folk school. I then develop an analysis of contemporary folk schools. Guided by methodologies of content analysis and comparative research, this qualitative, humanities-oriented research uses a historical and cultural lens for interpreting current web-based data and literature on folk schooling. I discuss contemporary North American folk schools and analyze them with respect to place, people, pedagogy, and philosophy. For the purpose of comparative content analysis, I examine folk schooling in five distinct yet related categories: The Originals, The Spiritual Schools, The (Quasi)State and Institutional Schools, The Grassroots Schools, and The Roving Schools. I then analyze modern folk schools as a unified branch of alternative, youth and adult education. In closing, I look to the future of folk schooling as sites of personal and social transformation, and suggest opportunities for living work that arise in response to this research.
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