Mission and Philosophy
The mission of the Folk Education Association of America is to identify, support, and facilitate community-based, learner-led education as a strategic tool for community organizing.
We use the term people’s education as an umbrella to include the many traditions of peer education that allow community members to work together to critically analyze oppressive systems, build a knowledge base, and apply this knowledge to create alternative possibilities for institutions that shape our lives. We believe that this democratic method of analysis and action should be one basis of organizing, and we focus our work on supporting this education. This process entails “participants,” “learners,” or “constituents” being seen as leaders, collectively finding ways to use their voices and actions for social change. People’s education, by its nature, is applied research that grows directly out of people’s real life situations.
Rather than focusing on a single issue area, our work seeks to support this type of political education as a tool in a range of community initiatives, including increased economic equality, workers’ rights, work against racism and sexism, as well as alternatives to environmental degradation, environmental racism, militarism, and the weakening power of people’s voices in the face of unaccountable politicians and corporations.
Board of Directors
Kate Parsons, Board Chair and Communications Director, Apprentice at Merck Forest, VT
Chris Spicer, Treasurer/Secretary, Founder/Director, The Integral Guesthouse; contract instructor with Labor/Management Workplace Education Program, UMass /Amherst, MA
Mary Cattani, Vice-Chair, former Director, Scandinavian Seminar, Amherst, MA
Marilyn Jackson, Western Institute for Social Research, Berkely, CA
Vicky Eiben, Founding Board Member Driftless Folk School, Assistant Professor of Education, Viterbo University, WI
Steve Rubinstein, Program Director Graduate Program in Outdoor & Environmental Education, Alaska Pacific University’s Spring Creek Educational Farm
Kay (Kathryn) Parke John Ramsay
1916 – 2013 University City, MO
Kay wrote these inspiring words in an issue of our journal OPTION (1994):
The love that an educator exercises must contain genuine respect toward others, and a healthy humility about oneself. Not easy to achieve. It requires lifelong study, practice, and alertness. It requires lifelong learning that is lifted by the heart.
and following, is a recent note from John (April, 2016):
N. F. S. Grundtvig has been my hero ever since I attended a 1972 Danish centennial celebration of his death. Awakening, enlivening, enlightening became my teaching strategy—as well as no exams. How could I test students when so many answers dissolved into more questions, especially in a changing world?
And now we see rapid change. The ice is melting before our eyes. Are we humans smart enough to discipline ourselves to live on this planet? Are we the ultimate of God’s creation?
Grundtvig envisioned that God is not yet done with creation. Life, he saw, was God’s experiment in how spirit and dust could intermingle and develop. The question is, are we humans going to be a success in this experiment of living or will we go the way of the countless species which failed the test? Are we smart enough to answer that question? That is the goal of folk schools!
John M Ramsay, University City MO