FOXFIRE is more than just a tiny plant that grows in shaded coves and glows in the dark. And it's more than an effort to preserve the past or an award-winning book series put together entirely by students. Foxfire has evolved into a philosophy and teaching method that confirms what educators have known for hundreds of years - students learn more effectively when they become actively involved in a real-world project of their own.
Foxfire's core principles are based on the work of pioneering United States educator and philosopher John Dewey and the experience of many teachers around the country. The principles are not intended to serve as a quick and easy recipe, and they are continually being reviewed and refined.
They do, though, represent the collective thinking of the Foxfire staff and teachers. In brief form, they are:
All the work teachers and students do together must flow from student interest.
The role of the teacher is that of a collaborator, team leader, and guide.
The academic integrity of the work must be absolutely clear. Each teacher must consider the local or state-mandated skill content lists and then integrate the content with other subjects.
The work emphasizes student action rather than passive learning.
There is an emphasis on peer teaching, small-group work, and teamwork.
Connections between classroom work, surrounding communities, and the real world outside the classroom are clear.
There must be an audience beyond the teacher for student work.
As the school year progresses, new activities should spiral gracefully out of the old.
We must acknowledge the worth of aesthetic experience ... and encourage students to use their imaginations.
Reflection - some conscious, thoughtful time at key points throughout the work - is essential.
The work must include unstintingly honest, ongoing evaluation for skills and content, and changes in student attitude.