In a recent visit, one of our Interpreters was so impressed by the cooperative learning of his class that he wrote:
“I was amazed at the interaction of the group. You could tell that a little under a 1/3 of the group was really really into it. Some of them knew as much about the geology here that I did. But what I was impressed with was the people that weren't really into rocks. They didn't have many questions, but they seemed to be willing listeners. Sometimes when you are excited about something, you just want to talk about it. These classmates allowed the passionate ones to share what they knew. “
His experience provides a glimpse into the philosophy and structure of our programs.
Fundamental to the success of our school programs is the ability of our Interpreters to adapt the experience to the needs and abilities of the students. The result is a wide range of experiences ranging from Interpreter-led presentations to student-led learning.
This presents several challenges to program design and delivery. How do you design for 30 minutes for an activity when one group could spend only 10 minutes covering it while the next engages for 45? How do you train Interpreters to dynamically facilitate the learning experience? How do you ensure that core prescribed learning objectives are met within such a dynamic environment?
Examples such as the one quoted above demonstrate that we successfully overcome these challenges. Through empowering students to actively shape their experience, our focus is on the broader concepts. Students can then further examine these concepts following their visit. Our objective is to start or further enhance the critical thinking process. Our measure of impact is in how transformative the museum experience is. Our pathway to achieving this is in enabling students to shape their experience at the museum as much as possible. To do this, we strive to break the barriers that inhibit students from challenging what they see and hear at the museum. In doing so, we are creating a learning environment where questioning and experimentation is natural – a learning environment for both students and ourselves.
We are, of course, an extension of what happens in the classroom. It is for this reason we encourage teachers to engage with us pre and post trip to shape the outcomes of their visit as well as future programming. Making magic moments: let's talk about it.