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Through the Schoolhouse Door

Through the Schoolhouse Door: Folklore, Community, Currriculum

Paddy Bowman
Lynne Hamer
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    Through the Schoolhouse Door
    Book Description:

    The creative traditions and expressive culture of students' families, neighborhoods, towns, religious communities, and peer groups provide opportunities to extend classrooms, sustain learning beyond school buildings, and better connect students and schools with their communities. Folklorists and educators have long worked together to expand curricula through engagement with local knowledge and informal cultural arts-folk arts in education is a familiar rubric for these programs-but the unrealized potential here, for both the folklore scholar and the teacher, is large. The value folklorists "place on the local, the vernacular, and the aesthetics of daily life does not reverberate" throughout public education, even though, in the words of Paddy Bowman and Lynne Hamer, "connecting young people to family and community members and helping them to develop self-identity are vital to civic well-being and to school success." Through the Schoolhouse Door offers a collection of experiences from exemplary school programs and the analysis of an expert group of folklorists and educators who are dedicated not only to getting students out the door and into their communities to learn about the folk culture all around them but also to honoring the culture teachers and students bring to the classroom.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-860-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword: How to Begin to Know What You Didn’t Know
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Bonnie Stone Sunstein

    As a longtime teacher, it’s hard for me to admit that some of the most permanent teaching and learning happen outside school: “Learn without realizing you’re learning.” “Teach when the teachable moment presents itself.” “The natural classroom of the real world.” “A school without walls.” Annoying clichés? Perhaps. Idealistic? I’m not so sure. As our schools pressure us to account for what students learn, we don’t have time to think about where and how our students learn. Yet we know it is our job to think about exactly that. We see learning; we know it happens. Often it’s on Mondays...

  2. Introduction: Through the Schoolhouse Door
    (pp. 1-18)
    Lynne Hamer and Paddy Bowman

    The knowledge, aesthetics, skills, and beliefs that young people, educators, and staff members bring through the schoolhouse door each day accompany them in almost invisible backpacks that too often go unopened. Likewise, the culture unique to each classroom and school may be as overlooked as water is to goldfish. While experts in educational research and leadership continue to call for improved home-school relations, the opportunities for developing such relationships remain severely constrained. Even before the strictures wrought by the education wars of the past decade, school-community connections were not as deep as folklorists working in K–12 education could envision....

  3. 1 “I Didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know”: Reciprocal Pedagogy
    (pp. 19-46)
    Paddy Bowman

    This chapter chronicles the arc of my development as a teacher educator. Documenting my teaching comes from the natural habit of a folklorist. I take notes and photographs and hang onto teachers’ assignments, evaluations, and artwork. My original chapter concept took me to thick files in my informal archive. I planned to appraise teachers’ assignments accumulating since 1994 to illustrate the powerful promise of folklore and fieldwork for K–12 educators’ understanding the deep connection between traditional culture and formal pedagogy. My research revealed more than I had anticipated—one of the gifts of writing, of course. Reviewing teachers’ work...

  4. 2 A Tale of Discovery: Folklorists and Educators Collaborate to Create and Implement the Louisiana Voices Educator’s Guide
    (pp. 47-67)
    Maida Owens and Eileen Engel

    In 1997 the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program had digitized a cornucopia of photographs and essays documenting traditional culture and folk artists from every parish in the state. With release of an extensive oral narrative collection in Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana (Lindahl, Owens, and Harvison 1997) and launch of an auxiliary Web site, introducing educators to our rich collections seemed a natural step. But how to do it? This chapter chronicles the development of the extensive Louisiana Voices project—a tale, yes, of discovery, with interludes of reflection, frustration, alteration, and joy.

    An initiative of the Louisiana...

  5. 3 Here at Home: Learning Local-Culture Pedagogy through Cultural Tours
    (pp. 68-98)
    Anne Pryor, Debbie Kmetz, Ruth Olson and Steven A. Ackerman

    Have you heard of the Chicago fire? Most people have, along with the legend of how Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started it. The story is untrue; the fire is not.

    Although the fire in Chicago may be the best known fire of the era, it was neither the largest nor the most deadly. The Chicago fire was but one of a series in 1871 that ravaged the upper Midwest, the largest of which occurred in Wisconsin on October 8. This fire swept along the shorelines of Green Bay, burning more than 1.28 million acres. An estimated thirteen hundred people lost their...

  6. 4 Art at the Threshold: Folk Artists in an Urban Classroom
    (pp. 99-119)
    Amanda Dargan

    Sitting on the floor beside pots of rice flour and brightly colored powders, Madhulika Khandelwal takes a pinch and slowly releases it between her fingers, drawing a fine curved line. Starting with a simple flower shape, she builds outwardly in concentric circles of ornamentation until the flower blossoms into an intricate design of stems, leaves, and petals. This traditional art, called rangoli in regions of India, is practiced solely by women. Khandelwal learned to draw rangoli from the women in her family. She describes how many women—both in India and the United States—draw rangoli at the entry to...

  7. 5 From “Show-Me” Traditions to “The Show-Me Standards”: Teaching Folk Arts in Missouri Classrooms
    (pp. 120-138)
    Lisa L. Higgins and Susan Eleuterio

    So wrote a student from Shelbina Elementary School in northeastern Missouri after a weeklong residency taught by Colombian folkloric dancer Carmen Dence and her percussionist Arthur Moore. In Jordan’s letter to Moore, she exhibits newfound cultural knowledge, an enthusiasm for learning, and the ability to overcome challenges—all goals for Missouri’s Folk Arts School Residency Project. Ultimately, Jordan appears well on her way to achieving performance goals outlined in the state of Missouri’s K–12 academic criteria, known as “The Show-Me Standards” (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education 1996).¹ This chapter explicates an ongoing, multiyear project that strives to...

  8. 6 Every Student Rich in Culture: Nebraska Folklife Trunks
    (pp. 139-150)
    Gwendolyn K. Meister and Patricia C. Kurtenbach

    This chapter describes the authors’ work collaborating as folklorist and teacher—along with other teachers and a state historian—to bring Nebraska history to classrooms across the state authentically, yet economically, and, most importantly, use folkloristic material to meet state education standards. Marrying the expertise of folklorists and educators produced the successful design of traveling trunks filled with culturally accurate resources relevant to current teaching demands and allowed students to learn state history firsthand through the experiences of a variety of the state’s cultural groups. Social-studies educators today often emphasize point of view and primary source materials as well as...

  9. 7 Exploring Arts-Based Research and Habits of Mind
    (pp. 151-167)
    Kristin G. Congdon and Karen Branen

    Follow a virtual back road to a visitor’s center to learn about Florida artists. marries folklore, folk art, arts education, and technology through rich, accessible, and compelling media. Over a period of four years—with the support of seven grants—faculty and students from the University Central Florida (UCF) worked with artists and their communities to create individual postcard Web sites of ten different artists (or groups of artists), tour guides, several podcasts, and two curricula. Although the product is a Web site (, the project also included public events and scholarly publications and presentations. This chapter 1) briefly...

  10. 8 “When Lunch Was Just Lunch and Not So Complicated”: (Re)Presenting Student Culture through an Alternative Tale
    (pp. 168-191)
    Lisa Rathje

    The students have named the assemblage “Parentless Generation.”¹ It is striking, filling the room with images that seem to evoke childhood—a teddy bear, Mickey Mouse, basketball—and chillingly contrast with graffiti texts—“free dem South Side Savages,” “R.I.P.Quarter,” “ Lost-Neverfound.” Standing nine feet tall and twelve feet wide, and composed of multiple stand-alone pieces, the structure demands attention and evokes contemplation. Kayla,² a student whose story is included in the visual art, wrote part of the accompanying interpretive text:

    Parentless Generation is the theme of my art. You see the people being burned by the fire. You see crack,...

  11. 9 Turning the University Inside Out: The Padua Alliance for Education and Empowerment
    (pp. 192-216)
    Lynne Hamer

    First, start where the individual is the expert and work out from there. Second, it is not right to ask an expert fiddler to play in a tent for free; she or he ought to be paid to play in a concert hall. These two instructions from my advisor Henry Glassie at the Indiana University Folklore Institute perpetually influence my thinking as an associate professor of education in postindustrial northwestern Ohio. Together they persuade me that our work as folklorists has its most profound potential in our ability to advocate for the value of the knowledge and expertise held by...

  12. Conclusion: Learned Lessons, Foreseeable Futures
    (pp. 217-225)
    Paddy Bowman and Lynne Hamer

    A book takes a while to come into being, and from the vantage point of 2011, seeing what has changed in four years is sobering. We began this book at a more promising time, when Folk Arts in Education (FAIE) programs, professional-development opportunities for teachers and artists, and new curricula and materials were flourishing. We were fresh from exciting education sessions at the 2007 American Folklore Society meeting in Québec City, where Steve Swidler of the University of Nebraska School of Education had the foresight to invite a Utah State University Press editor, John Alley, to a forum, “Making the...

  13. Appendix: Selected Folk Arts in Education Resources
    (pp. 236-239)