Why I Hate Museums

As a teacher, do you ever feel this way? Are you disappointed when you take a field trip with your students? That the effort is not worth the return? You aren’t alone. This was the title of a recent article published August 22 on the CNN Travel website. In this case, the author was describing museums as places were curators “collect and cage” artifacts and then expect the visitor to be as excited about the item but with only a minimum of information.

When you take your class to a museum you should expect more. Your visit should engage your students. They should be involved in learning and not listening passively to a walking lecture. They should experience learning by doing with hands-on objects, investigating higher-order questions that require analysis and evaluation, and exploring topics that make them the expert (that they share with other students back in class).

How do you get this type of visit?

First visit the museum’s website to see what they provide. If you don’t see it, request it. Museums today should be very interactive—especially with students. To provide the best experience for your students, all museum educators should adhere to this maxim when creating student programs:

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

At the Kansas Museum of History, we offer a number of interactive, engaging tours. Your students can work on the railroad, investigate Indian homes, journey on the Oregon Trail, and explore the lives of Kansans in the Civil War.

About mmadden2013

I am director of education for the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka, Kansas, and teach Public Museum Education at the University of Kansas.

2 thoughts on “Why I Hate Museums

  1. Great post!! I have to admit, it always frustrates me that whenever I bring a class to a museum, the museum insists on having a tour guide accompany us. If you have to have a walking, talking guide accompany groups, then your displays don’t contain enough information. A properly presented exhibit should provide all the information you need without having to purchase an audio-guide or book a tour!

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