What is the Coalition of Knowledge Building Schools and how does the Museum work with them?

The Coalition of Knowledge Building Schools is based in Sydney, and supported by the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. The Coalition is an unfunded network of Government and non-Government Schools and other education institutions (such as the Australian Museum, the State Library of NSW and Taronga Zoo) who share an interest in inquiry-based professional learning and a commitment to hearing and listening to student voice. For more information about the Coalition have a look at their website.

The Australian Museum has been working with the Coalition of Knowledge Building Schools over the past eight years. Students aged from 5-18 years have been advising the Museum on the development of exhibitions and programs, as well as how the Museum can best use the digital environment to showcase its research and collections.

The first project undertaken between the Museum and the Coalition was a study in 2003 called As We See It: Improving Learning at the Museum, conceived to engage both Museum staff and young people in a process to reflect on ways current Museum practices impact on their learning. This consisted of two phases. The first, focussed on the Museum’s own practices, and involved a range of education and interpretive staff gathering photographic images which they felt assisted or inhibited visitor learning in the Museum. In the second phase, a range of schools from the Coalition visited the Museum and were given disposable cameras to document what they felt helped and hindered their learning. The students also made posters which they then presented to Museum staff at a series of visits undertaken to their respective schools.

This phase of the project was considered so useful and engaging for Museum staff that further collaborations followed over the next few years. These consultations came to be known as Kids’ Colleges and, to date, three have been held – 2006 (exhibition development), 2007 (digital learning) and 2008 (climate change), with a Teachers’ College held in 2009.

A range of publications have emanated from our partnership as follows:

Further workshops are planned for this year so watch this space!