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ERIC Number: EJ849639
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Folk in the History Classroom: Using the Music of the People to Teach Eras and Events
Lovorn, Michael G.
Social Education, v73 n4 p173-178 May-Jun 2009
Social studies content is more meaningful to students when they can empathize with the people they study. Such empathy can be fostered via content material that is presented in a relevant, emotional, intimate, and even entertaining manner. Folk music offers this type of creative and constructive approach. The elementary school classroom is the opportune place to introduce the stories of ordinary folks, whose experiences are traditionally underrepresented in textbooks and state standards. Connections between history and folk music are common and quite natural. Each period in American history has had its descriptive folk songs and notable artists. African American spirituals, stirring Civil War battle cries, and lonely cowboy yodels describe nineteenth-century life through a variety of perspectives. In the twentieth century, folk artists chronicled events such as the world wars, the Great Depression, union activities, and the civil rights movement. This tradition is alive and well, as evidenced by the multitude of folk festivals that take place annually across the United States. In this article, the author presents a lesson that uses Woody Guthrie's "Dust Storm Disaster" to study the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Guthrie's music describes the "Dirty Thirties" from the perspective of those most affected by this environmental and economic disaster. The author has identified vocabulary terms from Guthrie's lyrics for the purpose of making language connections to the time and region. These terms are divided into two groups, lesson vocabulary and geography vocabulary, and are identified to direct students' focus to new terms and places that are integral elements of the activity. Period photographs enrich the activity and heighten students' visual learning experience. (Contains 9 online resources and 3 handouts.)
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A