Museums as Schools

Two articles caught my eye this week both address clever initiatives which position their respective museums as schools. I firmly believe that museums are inherently well suited to enhance, expand and yes enliven 'formal' education; productively advancing opportunities for STEM (read:STEAM) learning. These two examples take the vision one step further using the museum's collection; pedagogy and campus as the formal classroom. Examining initiatives to educate students at both ends of the scholastic progression - preschool and grad school these initiatives speak to the museum's ability to foster skills and strategies which encourage and enable students to take an active role in their own learning.

When Preschool IS the Museum
By Ellen Spear, President & CEO of Heritage Museums & Gardens
AAM Center for the Future of Museums Blog, February 18, 2014

I can imagine the day when our institution IS the school for pre-k – 3rd grade in our community.  (It is so very exciting to contemplate the children of our community growing up in our museum!) Museums can, in many cases, be more nimble with their facilities than a public school system, responding more quickly to changing demographic patterns.

At Heritage, we have a lot of the ‘stuff’ that students study –right here in our horticulture, teaching and American history collections.  We have 100 acres to explore, tied to STEM curriculum, outdoor discovery and daily exercise.

It’s Grad School at the Museum for NYC Students
By Karen Matthews
Associated Press article,

“I feel like it’s a privilege being on the inside, really learning both science content and pedagogy from the museum’s staff,” said Wanda Vargas, one of 17 current students.

Vargas said the museum helped spark her interest in science when she was growing up in the Bronx and Manhattan, and she has returned the favor by bringing students from the Bronx school where she was a student teacher last semester on a museum field trip.