Monday, July 7, 2008

Museum Education

When Design Education is present in schools they start to look more like Children's Museum. The whole point of museums is that images, objects, places and experiences have the power to educate. Schools need to take a lesson from museums and use the pedagogical power of objects, images, spaces, and experiences so that the building, the rooms, and the hallways become part of the "teaching staff". Schools have to help students learn from and through their environments and we need to create environments that teach.

Too often, museum educators focus on taking museum experiences and turning them into school-like activities teachers can use in their classrooms. The process should be reversed and museum educators should be helping school educators turn school experiences into museum-like activities. Museum educators should learn more from exhibit designers and bring those experiences to schools. Rather than turn museum learning into handouts and worksheets, help teachers turn schools into interactive learning environments. Help teachers across the curriculum learn how to work with students to design, fabricate and maintain interactive exhibits throughout the school. Make exhibit design part of the learning experience across the curriculum.

Museum educators could help teachers see how museums and theme parks deal with problems of safety, fire codes, theft, maintenance, vandalism, traffic patterns, etc. that we teachers so often use as excuses for not having more images and objects in these places called schools. Museums and theme parks have solved these problems in places where thousands of anonymous strangers come through. Schools should be able to solve those problems in places where we know everyone's name, there are usually less than a thousand, and we have ongoing relationships with them.

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