It feels a bit strange to be writing this post, a bit ghostly if you will(hello end of October!) You see, I’ve been haunting the museum school for quite some time, and this is most definitely not my first time on this blog…
My name is Amanda Foote, and I’m your new Museum School (assistant) Coordinator. As part of my role here, I’ll be working with Marnie in schools and at the Museum, and I hope to make a few contributions to this blog too. I thought I’d tell you a bit about myself so we can get acquainted… I believe that learning is significantly influenced by relationships, so I’d like to start some with the Museum School Community (no status update necessary, we can be just friends).
I first heard of the museum school as a fed up administrator working in a school system and deeply yearning for educational change. Every day I saw smart, creative, wonderful children, become frustrated and disengaged. I saw a system that was supposed to help them become their best, reduce them to their worst, and then punish them for the way they respond to the process. I started looking for alternatives, and one which particularly inspired me, was the work being done in the Glenbow Museum School.
To be honest, it was no accident that I stumbled upon their program, I am admittedly a museophile. Ever since I was a kid sitting in the front row of a Parks outdoor amphitheater watching a ranger wearing a beat up old bear costume and singing about poop, I have been fascinated with display, interpretation, and experiential education. Of course, I didn’t have the words for it then (if only I did, perhaps my poor confused parents would have better understood what I meant when I told them I wanted to be a dancing bear when I grew up). But through my education in Ecotourim and Outdoor Leadership, Heritage and Northern Studies, and Museums, I learned the language & tools of the trade.
So from an early age, I’ve been thinking about the ways that education happens. But I think many of us have. For me, and for many kids, the memory of that outdoor stage is far stronger than the collective experience of all my days in grade school classrooms, no matter how well intentioned our teachers were. The experience was transformative. Don’t get me wrong, there are teachers who can and do create transformative experiences (and on the other hand, there are parks interpreters who definitely don’t, I’m looking at you geologists with powerpoints). But the key is the environment. Schools are not set up to deliver transformative learning experiences, and in my opinion, the teachers who can create them out of the regimented systems of those places are straight up miracle workers.
And to some extent, that’s not really the point of schools either (now there’s an interesting discussion hey? My inner Oblio says that’s a discussion for another day). But it is the purpose of the museum. Or, to me it is. So when I get an opportunity to work with a young person, in a museum, that’s my goal. I want to help them have a learning experience that transforms them in some way… in any way… because human beings should be lifelong learners, and if I can expand the classroom into other spheres, and give young people new ways of seeing and knowing, that’s what is going to make this world a more creative, kind, and just place.
And that’s why I’m so excited to be here.