Yesterday evening HME members met at the Duke of Wellington pub in Waterloo and discussed this year's book club selection, Teaching in the Art Museum: Interpretation as Experience by Rika Burnham and Elliott Kai-Kee.
Focusing on chapters surrounding touring, asking questions, and the efficacy of various teaching techniques, we found some interesting similarities between us:
-both art museum and history museum educators agreed that discussion and dialogue were techniques we tended to use with groups of visitors, especially formal ones
-conversational techniques, while very engaging and memorable, are techniques we had not utilized frequently, nor with large groups. This teaching style seems to be more appropriate to one-on-one, or very small, informal groups
-as museum-goers, we found that generally, participating/answering questions in a tour is not necessarily something we're looking for, nor expect
The discussion came around to generational distinctions, and how this book (like many others) is focused on attracting people with engagement and participation. This raised questions, such as:
-do most of our visitors expect this experience in a museum?
-do they want this experience?
-if this approach is indeed best for youth, how can a docent most effectively handle a multi-generational group visit?
If anyone has read the book, and would like to add their thoughts, please do comment on this post.
Thanks again to everyone who attended; we're looking forward to the next meeting in March!