The history and legacy of the Foxfire cultural journalism program
Oliver, Julie Lynn
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The purpose of this study was to examine the history and legacy of the Foxfire program founded in Rabun County, Georgia in 1966; its contribution as a locally produced educational program and significance in the history of education in the state of Georgia and the southern Appalachian region of the United States. The following questions guided the research: (a) What ideas inspired and motivated Eliot Wigginton to create a program like Foxfire? (b) What were the features and goals of the Foxfire program during its formative years? (c) What were the qualities that made Foxfire popular with the local Rabun County community and gave Foxfire an audience outside Rabun County? (d) What was the teaching and learning environment like at Rabun Gap School during the Foxfire years? (e) What was Foxfire’s significance and impact as an educational program? (f) How does Foxfire compare to other innovative curriculum programs founded earlier and contemporaneously? And (g) How did Foxfire survive despite national and state trends toward “back to basics” and standards-based education; what were the changes that were brought to the program as a result? The research design chosen for this project was an intrinsic case study that explores the unique and distinctive qualities of the Foxfire cultural journalism program. The chosen perspective was post-colonial due to the Foxfire Program’s focus on an internally colonized region and people of the United States southern Appalachia. The sources used featured extensive primary source documents associated with the Foxfire program. Findings of this study retrace the historical background of the Foxfire program and that program’s founder, Eliot Wigginton’s, connections to Rabun County prior to founding Foxfire. This study also reveals the educational foundations of the school that gave birth to the Foxfire program, the Rabun Gap - Nacoochee School. The Foxfire pedagogical approach was confirmed to be Dewey-like but not originally Dewey-inspired. Among the original conclusions of this research were that Foxfire and its student participants and adult informants were contributing members of two socio-cultural movements formed contemporaneously with Foxfire the Appalachian cultural revival and the back-to-the-land movements.