Question Everything?

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 04 Jan 2011

So suggests David Truss... 

Students experiencing a hands-on fossils session

Students experiencing a hands-on fossils session
Photographer: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

At David's education blog, he quotes Bruce Wellman as saying:

“Mental models organized by an entrenched image of what teaching is will stay firmly in place until we move the conversation to an intense focus on learning… At this point, we appear to have a 19th century curriculum, 20th century buildings and organizations and 21st century students facing an undefined future.”

What about museums? Many museums are stuck in nineteenth century buildings and twentieth century ideas and are struggling to become both 'agents of change' and 'forces for change' (as noted in the blog post comments).

He suggests we question everything we assume about school education and learning and provides a useful set of starting points. I have taken this list and applied them as I think they relate to museum education and learning:

  • Why fill a museum with individual educational rooms?
  • Why have a unidirectional ‘front’ of the room? Why not have everything on wheels? Why have students 'tucked away'?
  • Why schedule visits in blocks? Why not have more self-guided meanderings?
  • Why design the visit schedule based on instructional time?
  • Why not address cross-curricula ‘big issues’ in programs?
  • How best do we ‘test’ a student’s understanding?
  • How do we shift to be focused primarily on learning?
  • How do we integrate technology meaningfully? What’s coming up next? How do we prepare for this?
  • Where is museum education being done ‘right’? What models are working? Who should we be paying attention to?

What do you think? How is museum education faring?


Lynda Kelly - 12.01 PM, 19 January 2011

Thanks Fran - we are indeed at an exciting time. I'm still thinking (and asking aorund) about best practice so watch this space...

Fran Dorey - 2.01 PM, 04 January 2011

A very interesting bunch of points and something I hope our Museum is thinking deeply about, particularly with the upcoming revovations. A chance to be pioneers perhaps, as museums in general are not up with the lastest and best in educational theory and practise. BTW, do you have any good examples of museums 'doing it right'?

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