What is a Folk School?

A folk school is a place where every teacher is also a student and every student has something to teach or share.

Duluth Folk School brings people together to share skills, knowledge, and life experiences. Classes are taught by community members and visiting artists and makers. Topics include cooking, fiber and paper arts, repair and re-use, natural history, woodworking, and music. Classes at Duluth Folk School encourage people to try new things, strengthen skills, and connect with each other. Handcrafting classes and community gatherings reduce feelings of isolation, build confidence and resiliency, and improve mental health. Skill sharing also promotes equity and a stronger social fabric.

The Folk School movement started in Denmark in the 1800s by N.F.S. Grundtvig as a way to support people (specifically farmers and laborers) without access to formal (often expensive) education. The goal was to provide people with skills and knowledge that would enable them to participate in newly emerging democracies. It was a school for life – a place to learn in community for the good of the community. This led to the development of Folk High Schools, places where young people could learn about the world around them from teachers AND each other. In Folk High Schools, there is a focus on human connection, equity, life skills, self-development, and diversity. Life skills enable one to be self-sufficient in making and fixing the goods needed for every day. A number of Folk High Schools still exist in the world! Today Folk Schools in North America largely focus on adult and intergenerational learners, the preservation of handcrafting or traditional skills, community building, and knowledge sharing across generations. Each Folk School is unique however and shaped by the people and place where it is rooted. 

A Folk School as a place where people come together to share skills, try new things, make connections, and use their hands, hearts, and minds to get curious about the world. It is a place where the roles of teacher and student flex and flow as part of a living skill share ecosystem. Folk Schools help us by providing a framework and environment that nurtures curiosity where people feel welcome, valued, and encouraged. They give us a place to build confidence in ourselves and each other. The more diverse and engaged the parts of that folk school ecosystem are – the stronger the connections, sense of belonging, and opportunities for spontaneous moments of discovery are. It may feel big and lofty – but the idea is simple. 

Bring people together to share their lived experiences in fun, non-competitive, beneficial, and accessible ways. 




1917 W Superior St
Duluth, MN 55806

Duluth Folk School
Office: 218-216-6929 or info@duluthfolkschool.com
Office Hours: Monday-Friday (9 am – 1 pm)

Dovetail Cafe & Marketplace
Cafe: (218) 481-7888 or kitchen@dovetailcafe.com
Marketplace: market@dovetailcafe.com
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday (8 am – 8 pm); Monday & Tuesday (8 am – 3 pm)

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Duluth Folk School is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit.


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