I agree that museums and teachers need to work together more closely to
understand the various obstacles and challenges that both sides face.
Museum educators and art teachers struggle with similar issues, just from
their own perspective.
When dealing with any organization be it a school or a museum, it is
helpful to get to know key people. I think it is important to develop
personal relationships with key people. This is often very hard, time
consuming and may take a while to make it happen. Once you have a good
working relationship with some key people, all kinds of things can
sometimes start happening...it takes time and it can be frustrating. In
the long run it is worth it. Once you have made contact, keep their
numbers and e-mail addresses in your phone book and easy to get back to.
Stay in touch and let the museum staff know what you are planning to do in
your art classes. They may be able to tell you about how they can help, if
they know what you are doing. Many art teachers, including myself are
introverts and I find it hard to do this some time. I have to make a
commitment and I am usually always very happy I have done so.
When contacting a museum, see if you can get the names of museum education
staff members and their e-mail addresses. Some of them post these kinds of
things on their web site if they have one. Using e-mail, as I am sure all
of us know is a good way to build relationships. Also, use voice mail and
leave detailed messages with your own e-mail address. Sometimes it is hard
for museum education staff members to get back in touch with very busy and
sometimes inaccessable art teachers, given that many art teachers do not
have a direct phone in their classrooms. It is great to have voice mail or
e-mail. Getting a cell phone for your own personal use in your art
classroom can be really helpful. I know it is sometimes hard to get to a
phone in many school situations and when you do their is sometimes a 3
minute time limit.
Ideally, I think it would be great if museums could visit the schools and
do a pre-visit before students come for an on-site visit. I also think the
people who come to the school for a pre-visit need to involve the students
in active learning activities. Combining it with some kind of hands-on
activity would be even better. The person who comes for the pre-visit
should also be the one the kids see when they come to the museum. The
museum visit should also be interactive and active and focus on involving
the children in the art work actively. Students should be given specific
assignments or tasks to do while they are at the museum. Many art teachers
can provide these assignments for students, so they know what they will be
doing when they get there. The museum education staff member can provide
many suggestions and resource materials.
Finally and most ideally, there should be a followup of the museum visit
and this should be integrated into the curriculum. The museum education
staff member can also followup with students and teachers to get feedback
about what they learned and other things they could do in the future.
As I said earlier, building a relationship is hard work! Doing it well
takes time, energy and commitment.
I think it is worth it!
Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D.
lose weight now, ask me how!