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Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem

September 28, 201628 September 2016

Museums and heritage organizations

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This American report highlights findings from a “convening” of about 50 museum and education practitioners, funders, and policy experts, which had the goal of launching “a national dialogue about the future of education and how leaders from the worlds of education and museums can work together to integrate the nation’s educational assets into a vibrant learning grid”. A “vibrant learning grid” would be “a flexible and radically personalized learning ecosystem that meets the needs of all learners”.

The report outlines key facts about museums’ involvement in education. American museums:

  • “spend more than $2 billion a year on education”, with about three-quarters of this amount being devoted to Kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
  • “receive more than 55 million visits every year from students in school groups”.
  • “create educational programs in math, science, art, literacy, language arts, history, civics and government, economics and financial literacy, geography and social studies”.
  • “provide more than 18 million instructional hours for educational programs” each year.

Given this deep involvement in education, the report indicates that “museums can play a critical role [in education], both as resources for learners, and as teachers of teachers, sharing what they have learned from their last century of education”.

However, the report argues that museums suffer from a lack of awareness of their educational role. The report contains three key strategies for museums to “gain much more traction and visibility” in education:

  1. Be proactive: Show leadership and help direct “the power of the learner”.
  2. Be relevant, by focussing on “contextual interdisciplinary learning”. The report notes that museums offer all “four As” of learning: the acquisition, association, application, and assimilation of knowledge.
  3. Be “top of the mind” in education: “museums need to push the boundaries and become stakeholders instead of just partners. It is time for museums to become drivers of educational change.”

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