Learning through making : a study in craft education at the John C. Campbell Folk School

Burke, Margaret Taylor
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The purpose of this study was to investigate why adult students engage in arts learning and what they gain from that experience. Specifically, this research combined case study and narrative inquiry methods to produce a richly textured understanding of the John C. Campbell Folk School and the experiences had by students, instructors, and staff at the school. Due to the unique nature of a rural, interdisciplinary folk arts school, a survey of the Folk School’s history and educational philosophies was conducted to provide a framework for understanding the school’s specific environment. Through informal narrative interviews with students, instructors, and staff, individual accounts of the Folk School experience were established. By identifying what drives enrollment and outcomes of attendance, this study draws conclusions about what individuals seek through informal arts learning. The findings of this study indicate consistent motivations for initial enrollment at the school, but a broad range of reasons for re-enrollment. The reported outcomes were strongly related to personal development, enjoyment, and relationships built at the school. Based on the findings of this study, key components of informal, adult arts learning were identified that can inform other schools and institutions as they promote adult programs.