Katherine Rose's Discussion on Informal Learning in a Museum Setting


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At 'Education for the Future: A Conference on Informal Learning in Museums and Cultural Institutions' in Doha, Qatar, November 2013.

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  • Hello, Salaam Aleikum, Namaste! My name is Katherine Rose. It is a great honour to be addressing the conference today and I thank Jelena for the opportunity to join the dialogue taking place at this stimulating event. I am also very happy to finally see the Museum of Islamic Art here in Doha. And I have passed through Doha airport many, many times – each time feeling frustrated to be sitting in the transit lounge when I know what treasures are here!So I am a director of Flow Associates in London – a consultancy that advises cultural organisations in the UK and around the world on learning and engagement.I am also Founder Director of Flow India in Delhi – a company that is pioneering museum and cultural education in India. I am going to start with some ideas about what I see as a major shift in learning taking place and how what I broadly define as cultural learning fits into this. I will then tell you a bit about my work in India – and why I believe cultural learning is increasingly valuable in our world today. This will be a whistle-stop tour and I will try and keep to time!
  • Firstly, I wanted to explain our name.It is inspired by ‘Flow’ theory, a term many of you will be familiar with. It was coined by the Czech psychologist Mickael C to describe a state that we will all have experienced at one time or other. It is characterised by total absorption and loosing a sense of time – and for me it’s cooking.
  • Just to recap on some broad definitions of informal and formal education.But I increasingly sense a blurring of boundaries between informal and formal education and believe that our definitions will be challenged. Why is that?
  • One aspect of this shift is the rise of social and open learning – enabled by developments in technology. I’ve tried to summarise a few key points here.
  • But the shift isn’t just about how we access information.It’s about developing capacities in our learners, which is the focus of ‘21st century’ learning. [I’m sure many of you have heard of Ken Robinson, a high-profile and impassioned advocate of 21st century learning. His premise is that schools are designed in an old ‘industrial society’ model, and do not equip our children to take part in the economies of the 21st century. He delivered a famous Ted talk titled ‘How Schools Kills Creativity’. If you haven’t already seen this do watch it – you’ll be in good company as it’s the most watched ted talk ever – which is revealing in itself.]
  • I’m interested in how formal education settings are acknowledging this shift. For example some schools are experimenting with ‘flipped learning’ where the reading/book-based/individual learning takes place at home and what happens in school is social/collaborative learning.One school I visited recently in the North of England, in a deprived area with social problems and poor exam results, has done away with the traditional curriculum and timetable altogether, and even reconfigured classrooms. Teachers work with students to design ‘projects’ of the students choosing, in which the teacher acts as a guide and mentor.
  • Now I want to jump a little and consider the process of cultural learning, specifically as it developed in the UK museum context over the last 40 years.Activity- and object-based learning that revolves around participation and dialogue has become the norm. It’s also worth noting that in the 1990s and 2000s the UK government placed great emphasis on education, and funding for both national and local cultural institutions was often contingent on meeting both quantitative and qualitative educational targets.
  • Talk through LEARNERS, MEDIATORS, RESOURCES.But now I want to focus on the process of learning rather than the location.
  • This is a project called ‘Campaign! Make an Impact’ and was created by my colleague Bridget McKenzie when she was head of learning at the British Library. It is an innovative initiative that uses history to inspire people into active citizenship.The the cultural institution provides a framework and the stimulus, and participants can use this as a basis for conducting their own investigations with very real outputs.
  • There have been several studies to try and understand the impact, and therefore the wider educational value, of this broad scope of ‘cultural learning’. Cultural learning and the process of creative enquiry can of course be done in schools to great effect – as we heard from Paul yesterday. But I want us to think about how cultural learning is specially positioned to blend learning in a high-functioning environment the possibility to reflect on the big issues – as Paul said ‘to think conceptually’ to develop 21st-century capacities.
  • [GO THROUGH SLIDE POINTS]Colonial history of museums – founded by the British – similar context to the National Museum in Singapore. Including post 1947 independence ‘national identity’ project within museums. No museum culture – mall culture – this is the social space of choice. There are some great exceptions, but on the whole no sustained learning programming taking place today in publicly or privately owned Indian museums. I will drop a controversial teaser in here and say it is NOT to do with a lack of money in the relevant ministries – but I don’t have time to elaborate on this. So in order to get to work quickly, we set up as a commercial company – and we sell our learning experiences to parents, and to schools. Our work, at present, largely takes place in middle-class private schools (although we have done work with government schools via the excellent Teach for India initiative). This is partly because operating commercially simply enabled us to get to work sooner, and partly because this constituency of learners is vitally important for India’s future. There is no doubt that the poor children of India desperately need support. But building empathy with the built and natural environment, and people and places, in middle-class schools is crucial in a democraticsociety that is witnessing such rapid social change, urban transformation, environmental degradation, mind-boggling social inequality and a growing, but uncertain, role on the world stage. I hope one day that we’ll be successful enough to set up a non-profit or foundation and take the same programmes to government schools.
  • WeI Love Indian Art – an afterschool course that took place in a gallery.[Examples: PraneetSoi & HemaUpadyha] We try and put into practice the blended dialogue approach that Olga was talking about yesterday, as well as using creative practice to anchor the children’s learning.
  • SCERT training in partnership with National Museum Institute
  • Launched the programme last year. 2 or 3 day structure.Skits day 1Each child gets their own activity booklet, which we produce. Nearly 6000 children since July this year, and 13 schools.Children from KG – class 9.
  • Created and delivered programmes around 12 different museums or heritage sites around Delhi, including the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and the Parliament Museum.
  • Now I want to introduce my work in India, where together with colleagues, I’ve set up Flow India to pioneer cultural learning using the creative enquiry methodology.Then I will present the work my company is doing in India where we are pioneering connecting the curriculum with the real world through visits to museums and heritage sites, drawing on object-based, experiential learning, but also combining the approaches that Paul so eloquently discussed yesterday: using creativity and enquiry to foster critical thinking and in particular capacities to learn. As well as our pedagogical approach, I hope our particular organisational and business model of delivering museum education will be of interest. The majority of education in India, in government schools and private schools (45% of Indian children are privately educated) is focused on exam succes, with a narrow set of careers (engineering, law, medicine) still being most highly valued. Many government museums were in fact set up by the British during colonial times. This leaves a complex legacy, and I wont go into all the contextual factors here, but essentially Indian museums are, generally speaking, still focused on objects rather than visitors. Few museums have either the resources or capacity to provide sustained education programmes, nor to provide the kind of sophisticated interpretation that allows self-directed visitors to have the rich level of experience that has become the norm in the West. There are several notable exceptions, but I do not have time to go into them here. We do work with museums, and have advised them on programming and training, but the core of our work is directly with schools. We design and deliver programmes that connect the curriculum with real world learning, and have a visit to a cultural site (museum, gallery, historical monument, heritage site) at their core.
  • Our programmes aim to connect both the education landscapes discussed previously, pioneering bringing engaged cultural learning to schools in India using methodologies road-tested in leading cultural institutions in the UK (including the British Library & Tate) and adapting them for the Indian education context.
  • Deliberately put these three words together. We are running programmes commercially, and not operating within an established institution.We strive to create opportunities for open-ended exploration of the meaning of a cultural artefact or site in our own life and learning – but we can’t wave a magic learning wand. At it’s best children discover that joining the dots is like opening new doors, and a process that they can take to the rest of their life with untold reward. Scale & scaling/ training / market: Challenges and opportunities. Logistics and unpredictability: water project & buses – school timetable / parking at Red Fort – two
  • We are working on an evaluation framework to help us understand the impact and value of cultural learning in India.
  • Reiterate Paul’s idea of SAFE SPACES – to explore big and challenging ideas. About water scarcity, about how we might choose to live our lives.But creativity is important for managing other aspects of change – including strengthening and adapting local knowledge systems in of climate-related environmental and political challenges. In India major challenges to development are faced by environmental degradation, migrations of people, potential water shortage, food price rises, unequal economic development and resultant political instability both within India and at the regional level. The children in these schools are the citizens of the future, and are going to have to be creative, collaborative and critical leaders to not only mitigate, but also to adapt to change in a way that preserves and protects our human heritage, human values and culture.
  • Katherine Rose's Discussion on Informal Learning in a Museum Setting

    1. 1. CULTURAL LEARNING AND THE FUTURE OF MUSEUM EDUCATION – SOME THOUGHTS FROM INDIA Katherine Rose Founder Director, Flow India, New Delhi Director, Flow Associates, London
    2. 2. CULTURAL LEARNING AND THE FUTURE OF MUSEUM EDUCATION – SOME THOUGHTS FROM INDIA Katherine Rose Founder Director, Flow India, New Delhi Director, Flow Associates, London
    3. 3. Flow theory & a model of learning
    4. 4. Definitions: formal & informal education
    5. 5. The rise of social and open learning • Opportunity for self-directed, lifelong learning has exponentially increased • Opportunity for creating non-hierarchical learning communities exists in a way it never did before • Permanently changed relationship with knowledge and facts: the google/wikipedia effect • This is bringing about a shift in the relationship between learner and traditional knowledge provider i.e. a school or museum. They are no longer the sole guardians or ‘imparters’ of knowledge.
    6. 6. Characteristics of 21st century learning • Active • Enquiry-based • Collaborative • Participatory • Creative • Connected to research • Connected to real world = Focus on aptitude development and fostering appetite for learning rather than simply knowledge acquisition.
    7. 7. Flipped learning & engaged learning
    8. 8. Development of museum learning in UK
    9. 9. Who is involved in cultural learning? The cultural & creative capabilities of LEARNERS LEARNING PROCESS The RESOURCES: the cultural & creative organisations or practitioners, that enrich it The MEDIATORS, or TEACHERS(who include parents/carers), who tap the resources and develop the competencies of learners.
    10. 10. Defining dimensions of cultural learning PRACTICE: Learning and practicing the skills of creativity (making and thinking) ACCESSING CULTURE: Learning across the curriculum enhanced by cultural and creative stimuli and resources ENRICHMENT: The approach might vary with context and veer towards one or two of these: - Learning the values, rituals and stories of your own peoples (culture as identity) - Learning how your own cultural identities are part of a complex global whole (culture as diversity) - Learning about high culture and methods of appreciation (culture as canon).
    11. 11. Maximising optimal learning: creative enquiry
    12. 12. Evidence for the impact UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport 2010 report found that participating in structured arts activities led to: • increases in transferrable skills (including confidence and communication) of between 10-17%. • increase children’s cognitive abilities test scores by 16% and 19% on average. In the US, large cohort studies of 25,000 students done by James Catterall show that taking part in arts activities increases student attainment in maths and literacy, with particularly striking results for students from low income families.
    13. 13. Flow India • Founded 2010 to introduce cultural learning / creative enquiry model to India • 3 directors: 2 British, 1 Indian • 5 full-time staff members • Team of 15 freelance workshop facilitators • We are an independent organisation that operates commercially in the Indian education market.
    14. 14. Partnership programming FICA (Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art)
    15. 15. Partnership programming Sanskriti Foundation: Museum of Everyday Art, Museum of Terracotta, Textiles Museum
    16. 16. Consultancy programming British Council India – The Big Draw
    17. 17. Consultancy programming Subodh Gupta exhibition at NGMA
    18. 18. Capacity building/ training
    19. 19. The Flow School Programme
    20. 20. The process of ‘creative enquiry’ •Critical thinking Employing imagination and reflection •Cultural awareness •Creativity Honing Critical and analytic judgment Articulating our own ideas while listening to others •Enquiry •Communication Encountering wide based cultural art forms Developing research skills through fascination and self discipline
    21. 21. Stories of water, ancient and modern
    22. 22. Challenges opportunities constraints Scale and scaling Training Operating within a market with customers Logistics Unpredictability of environment
    23. 23. Developing cultural learning evaluation in India educational e.g. measurable through attainment physical e.g. measurable through wellbeing & sporting aptitude cultural e.g. measurable through participation in culture & creativity economic e.g. measurable through production of financial & non-financial capital for groups/communities and economically viable skills in individuals social e.g. measurable through 'belonging', cohesion, improved behaviour
    24. 24. Museums and education in the future? Will continue to be vital places, spaces and catalysts for experiences and learning that allow us to connect with our past to help us better understand our present and future. The distinction between informal and formal learning will matter less. But the cultural empathy that museums afford is more important now than it has ever been before.
    25. 25. katherine.rose@flowassociates.com www.flowindia.com www.facebook.com/flowindia