Learning for Life

If you have been wishing for the chance to learn some new skills in a setting that doesn’t include grades, tests, and credentials, this might be the answer! We have designed a learning session in which participants can try new things in a safe and encouraging environment that focuses on experience rather than achievement. We’ll be offering “adulting” type subjects like personal finance, vehicle maintenance, and basic home repair as well as skills like welding and smithing, textile arts, fine art and design, music, dance, creative writing and storytelling, nature skills, stonemasonry, and more.

Our Learning for Life session at Happiness Hills Farm aligns with an approach to learning that’s called “Folk Education” or “Democratic Education.” It is a very different but effective method of sharing information. Knowledge and ideas are discussed among participants, in discussions facilitated by the teacher/leader who recognizes the experience and value that each participant brings to the room. Learning happens in an atmosphere of encouragement and love, rather than in a lecture format where the teacher/speaker is the only person with a voice. Participants in Folk Education learn in community with each other, and leave not only knowing more about the subject they came to focus on, but also enriched by the relationships they have formed with the others in their group.

Learning for Life participants will live together at Happiness Hills for 10 weeks, from mid-January through March. We’ll eat all of our meals together and manage our lodging spaces together. There will be free time as well as directed community time outside of “class,” in a setting where every person is welcome and valued.

Many folk schools in North America and abroad focus on crafts, the arts, sustainable energy, and farm-to-table, but the possibilities are actually endless for what people can learn by this method. It is, in our opinion, what our fractured society so desperately needs right now. We’re starting with the things we can easily lead, along with some close friends, but we intend to begin offering many more sessions in various areas as soon as we feel it’s the right time. If you’re interested in participating in any specific subject, please let us know, and if you’re interested in leading a session, let us know about that also! Future sessions will likely include: Forestry & Faith; Dance; Blacksmithing; Woodworking; Basic Mechanics; Gardening; Singing; Stonework; Quilting.

Click here for a history and explanation of Folk Schools in general (note: clicking will create a new tab and take you outside this website)

A FOLK SCHOOL AT HAPPINESS HILLS
(a message from Jennifer Rose)

Why put a folk school here at the farm? The shortest answer possible is that it’s what I was probably born to do. After a two-decade career as a full-time musician, I came home to help my dad establish a retreat center on an 80-acre farm he purchased when he was in his mid-70’s. It was my honor to work alongside him to build Happiness Hills, and I was humbled by his choice to transfer ownership of it to me when he was in his early 80’s. Our family has been involved for many generations in movements that add value to life and culture. Whether as missionaries, civil rights activists, labor leaders, professors, administrators, or community volunteers, we come from a long line of folks who wanted to help their fellow humans rise above, connect, and hope. I’m not the first in my family to be involved in the Folk School movement, not the first to have traveled to Denmark, where the movement was born, not the first to learn the Danish language and read the words of the movement’s founder, NFS Grundtvig… not even the first to be involved in the Folk Education Association of America. But I am the torch-bearer of my generation, and am honored to be so, and I’m committed to passing it on to my children and the young people I work with on a daily basis.