I am not going to lie. Like many of us, I am suffering from election anxiety today. As a parent and educator, I see the glaring gaps in our fractured educational system and become frustrated and pessimistic. At the same time, one of the reasons I work in the museum field is that I am constantly inspired by museums. I believe museums are among our most democratic spaces, fostering critical thinking and creativity among people of all ages and backgrounds, from the newly born to our seasoned retired population. Museums promote life-long, multi-partisan learning. At their best, museums are spaces where people who don’t usually interact with each other share space, question the world around them and, as a result, develop empathy, trust and hope for humanity. This is a difficult task for those museums that focus on the dark side of human nature, exploring subjects such as the Holocaust, but even these museums manage to offer inspirational stories that leave visitors more hopeful than when they entered.
This essential work of museums never ceases to amaze me. That is why I chose to relaunch the Alliance’s “Future of Education” website today here. The new site features a blog, twitter feed, and copious resources about education. It will also, in time, host another challenge inviting the field to envision potential futures through the lens of fiction. I have already issued many invitations to museum educators, PreK-12 teachers, leaders of museum schools, students and parents to guest post on this site, encouraging them to raise issues and start discussions they feel need to take place. My colleagues and I at the Alliance want this website to be the go-to place to broaden the thinking across the field. It isn’t just for my voice—it’s a place to share stories from our field’s powerful network of brilliant educators. I want to tell these stories with you and highlight your voices in your own words. This is my open invitation to you to contribute a guest post to this site. Reach out to me at @Museumsp12 on Twitter and via email at <<smorganhubbard (at) aam-us.org>>
I want this blog to be a place where we co-create and share our visions and forecasts for the future of museum education. Every election season, I revisit the poem “Let America Be America Again” by one of my favorite poets Langston Hughes. Hughes writes that we must “bring back our mighty dream again.”
“O, let America be America again—The land that never has been yet—And yet must be—the land where every man is free. The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.”
While this election has its own particular issues and players, we have had similar debates over the course of American history. Even as we struggle with the inequities and fear some of the changes shaping our formal education systems, how can we dream again, hope again and create new worlds for museum education? This Election Day is an important political and educational moment for our country. It comes at a time when our educational and museum systems are shifting. We should use our power to influence this shift, in order to transform the educational landscape into the vibrant learning grid we want to see in America. I want to praise deserving programs, learn best strategies for how to create sustainable programs, but also to write about the future that “never has been yet,” but could be if we devote enough energy to the task of making it come true.
What are the museum programs you always wanted to see? What does your ideal educational future look like? How can we learn from your institution? What are the fascinating stories in the field that need to be told? What questions do you have for your colleagues? How have you failed forward and learned from that failure? Please visit our first blog posts exploring these questions and more at: http://futureofeducation.aam-us.org/
I look forward to visioning with you. Your work gives me and my growing family much needed hope.