VAF’s Tools for Education makes resources available online for teaching

31 Jan 2015 11:07 AM | Christine R Henry (Administrator)

by Sarah Fayen Scarlett

The VAF’s recently revamped website features a new page called Tools for Education developed by the Education Committee to complement the existing Tools for Advocacy page. This resource is aimed at professors, teachers, and students looking for an introduction to Vernacular Architecture studies – a “Starter Kit.” It gives newcomers a way to locate the VAF’s approach among various academic fields and methodologies, while also providing practical resources for the classroom and the field.

Visitors to the Tools for Education page can download thematic slideshows as the basis for classroom presentations or curriculum development. The slideshows feature high-quality fully credited photographs mostly taken by veteran VAF members at annual conferences around North America. Detailed information and a suggested narrative appears in the “notes” section of the slideshows and can be used word-for-word or as inspiration for related projects. One slideshow currently available is based on Thomas Carter and Elizabeth Cromley’s Invitation to Vernacular Architecture. It provides useful definitions and an illustrated tour through a wide range of buildings and landscapes, and also celebrates close looking and object-driven analysis.

In the coming months, we will add an additional slideshow about doing fieldwork, which is at the heart of the VAF’s mission. We also plan a “Close Looking” series that will draw images and in-depth research from past VAF conferences. Over the years, conference guidebooks have featured incredibly rich and otherwise unpublished documentation of buildings and landscapes. For teachers without the resources, experience, or geographic proximity to an area of interest, these slideshows will provide high-quality photographs and interpretive materials to help them incorporate vernacular architecture into classroom activities, student projects, and their overall curriculum. “Tools for Education” also provides a growing list of other recommended online resources and potential textbooks.

This new “Tools for Education” resource can be found under the website’s Learning tab, along with our ongoing Syllabus Exchange and Vernacular Architecture Reading List. All of these will continue to grow so please check back often. Thank you to Education Committee members past and present who helped initiate this page include Elaine Jackson-Retondo, Sarah Lopez, and Thomas Hubka, also to David Bergstone, Susan Garfinkel, and the website committee. The VAF wants to help teachers and college professors use buildings and landscapes in their classrooms and we hope these resources will prove useful. We welcome your feedback! Please direct it to

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