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Professor's essays recall innovation, legacy of Foxfire program

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink   |   Kudos,   Media Mention,   Service and Community

They were creating a new way to educate without even realizing it.

But now, 50 years after launching the Foxfire program, the rural ways of life are still teaching important lessons for students in Rabun County, even though the name is no longer used to describe the form of education—one that connects student activities to the community.

Today, terms such as "project-based" and "deep-" learning are used to describe the types of hands-on, democratic lessons taught by the Foxfire program, but it doesn't diminish the influence the program had on education as a whole. Recently, former College of Education professor emeritus of education, Carl Glickman, published two essays reflecting on the Foxfire approach to education, and the legacy it's created 50 years later.

The Foxfire approach to education began in the classroom of a high school English teacher in Rabun Gap. In one essay, published in the February edition of Kappan magazine, he writes of one teacher's desire to make learning interesting for his students by making the classroom part of democratic life. "Foxfire belongs to the community as an irreplaceable contribution to the world, showing the staying power of students, classrooms, and schools partnering with their community to make education a contribution to both," he writes.

A longer version focused on Foxfire's impact in Georgia is in the latest issue of PAGEOne, the magazine of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

Glickman also evaluated the Foxfire program, as well as research on activity-centered programs that are similar to the core practices of Foxfire, to gauge its long-term success. "Studies of these programs show student success in academic achievement, higher interest in learning, lower dropout rates, progress beyond school in both higher education and professional careers, and greater participation as adult citizens in local and state affairs," he writes.

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