Learning About Learning Foundation Collection

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Identity elements

Reference code

US TxSaTua UA0431

Name and location of repository

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Learning About Learning Foundation Collection


  • 1963-1986 (Creation)


Name of creator


Administrative history

The Learning About Learning Educational Foundation, a non-profit organization, was developed out of Trinity University’s theater director Paul Baker’s philosophy and instructional course, the Integration of Abilities. The basis of this concept focused on the development of the creative potential of children through integrated arts. Baker taught this course at both Baylor University and Trinity. This approach was also applied at Baylor University’s Children’s Theater and Trinity’s Ideas in Motion children's theater program. Kitty Baker and Jearnine Wagner reflected on this process in Our Theater: A Place for Ideas (Principia Press, 1966).

In 1967 the Hogg Foundation and the Brackenridge Foundation provided funding to work with educators to investigate the applications of this approach in practical school environments.

In 1971, Jearnine Wagner, with former Trinity University students Cynthia Herbert, Sally Howell, Mary Jean McCullough, Charles Jarrell, Julia Jarrell, Johnny Gutierrez and later Susan Marcus and Susie Monday created Learning About Learning which was affiliated with the university.

The purpose of the foundation was to develop and operate programs for children that taught skills on how to apply their creativity to enrich their daily lives and learning experiences.

Projects included the Lab School for educational research, developing teacher training materials, creating educational activity kits distributed through Kid Concern, Inc., and the operation of the Idea Workshop family center.

With continuing support of the San Antonio District and Trinity University the group was able to develop over the next 15 years a diversified income base, a friends support group, and a wide range of local, regional and national funding partners to explore the challenges of integrating the philosophy of creative work into a broader array of children’s everyday lives.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Cynthia Ridgeway Herbert (b.1943) is a Texas educator specializing in creative curriculum and instruction development. Herbert grew up in Waco, Texas. At the age of nine, Herbert’s mother enrolled her in the Children’s Theater at Baylor University. The program was based on the “Integration of Abilities” university course and philosophy originated by Paul Baker. His wife Kitty Baker had created a complementary children’s program, which was expanded by Jearnine Wagner, a student of Baker’s and later on his staff. Herbert remained in the program throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

When Baker and his company moved to Trinity University in 1963, former students of the theater followed. Baker and Wagner formed the theater program Ideas in Motion at Trinity. Herbert was offered to teach full time in the program by Baker and Wagner, and they were able to secure a full tuition scholarship so she could afford to attend Trinity.

After graduation Herbert continued to work with Wagner. In 1971 they, along with several other former students of Wagner’s, established the Learning About Learning Educational Foundation. While at Learning About Learning, Herbert created a multitude of interactive books for children and guidebooks and teaching tools for adults. In the 1970s, she co-directed an award-winning lab school. During the early 1980s Herbert pursued and received her Master’s and Doctorate in developmental psychology at the University of Houston.

When Learning About Learning closed in 1986, Herbert and Wagner moved to Houston, where they had been doing educational consulting for several years. While there Herbert developed teaching modules, guides, lesson plans and activities for several school districts, in particular Houston Independent School District, which were supported by area foundations and governmental agencies.

After years of developing curricula that were required to speak to standardized testing and metrics, Herbert rejoined several Learning About Learning colleagues on various projects. From 2000 to 2015, she partnered with Julia Jarrell for Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED), an USAID supported program as the academic leader of international cohorts. Since 2012 she has also worked with Susan Russell Marcus and Susie Monday to develop an early childhood program titled New World Kids. As of 2022, she is working with Jarrell to complete The Creative Way, a comprehensive guidebook for educators.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Julia Byrns Jarrell was born in Dallas, Texas in 1945. Jarrell participated in the Dallas Theatre Center when it was associated with Baylor University’s theatre program under the direction of Paul Baker. Jarrell attended Trinity University and received a BA in 1967 and a MA in 1980.

In 1970 she and her husband Charles Jarrell were invited to be part of the development team of what would become the Learning About Learning Educational Foundation. From 1974-1978 Jarrell was co-director with Cynthia Herbert of the foundation’s Lab School. Jarrell’s thesis publication, An interdisciplinary arts model for curriculum invention (1980) documents her work in the Lab School, with focus on the development of elementary school students’ multi-year ethnographic investigation of the traditional play Los Pastores. Jarrell utilized observational fieldwork in other projects with LAL such as the Future/Past (1972) mission field trips and publication and the City Scope program series (1983-1984).

After LAL closed in 1986, Jarrell led the LBJ Heartland Network with the National Parks Service and the Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historical Park, which fostered support for the area’s natural environment and cultural heritages.

From 2000-2016 Jarrell worked with Alamo Colleges International Program Office as a program and project developer and led several initiatives for international educators and youth.

After retirement, Jarrell dedicated her time to the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, visiting detention centers along the Texas border, speaking with women and children from Central America who were seeking asylum in the United States.

As of 2022, Jarell is working with other founding LAL members on legacy projects that chronicle the impact the foundation had with creative and differentiated educational thinking.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Susan McAtee Monday was born in Waco, Texas in 1948. Her father taught chemistry at Baylor University. As a child, Monday attended the Baylor Children’s Theatre under the direction of Kitty Baker and Jearnine Wagner. At the age of 12, Monday moved to Houston, but remained in contact with the children’s theater program and was later a contributor to the Our Theatre, a Place for Ideas book written by Wagner and Baker. In 1964, Paul Baker moved his theatre company from Bayor to Trinity University. Monday participated in the Youth In Motion summer programs at Trinity under the direction of Luanne Klaras and Virginia DuPuy. After high school, she attended Trinity, studying studio art, and received a B.A in 1970.

While at Trinity she continued working with the Ideas in Motion Program as a student teacher. She contributed to Wagner’s Unlimited Potential Program, working with youth from area schools, as well as Hemisfair’s Children’s Garden and the Intercambio Exchange Program. Monday joined the core group that would organize the Learning About Learning Educational Foundation (LAL) in 1971. She developed programs, exhibits and publications, and led LAL’s Idea Workshop. As the creative arm of the organization, the Idea Workshop served as an incubator for ideas and themes that could reach children, schools and families across the city. These ideas and themes were often further developed in the Laboratory School, teacher training, new products and services.

After Learning About Learning closed in 1986, Monday worked as a writer for both the San Antonio Light and Our Kids Magazine. From 1993-1998 she was the Director of Exhibits and Programs at the San Antonio Children’s Museum. Monday has since established herself as a fulltime textile and fiber artist and teacher in the South Texas region, regularly participating in exhibitions and offering online and in-person workshops.

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The collection consists of material from Trinity's Learning About Learning Educational Foundation.

System of arrangement

Series 1 - Operational Files
Series 2 - Idea Workshop
Series 3 - Imagination Works, Kin Concern Inc.
Series 4 - Fundraising and Membership
Series 5 - Photographs
Series 6 - Publications and Special Projects

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open and available to the public for research in the Special Collections & Archives reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

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Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Material was collected by Coates Library during Learning About Learning's operation, from 1971-1986.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


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Related archival materials

Learning About Learning Educational Foundation digital collection found here: https://cdm16264.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/learning

Notes element

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Learning About Learning Collection. UA0431. Coates Library Special Collections and Archives, Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas).

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Sources used

Archivist's note

Abra Schnur, Fall 2022

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Physical storage

  • Document Box: UA0431 |B1| 32060012374845
  • Box: UA0431 |B2| 32060012370314