12 thoughts on “Invisible Pedagogies: Expanding the Concept of Education in Museums”

  1. I love this—a contemporary, thoughtful response to some long-standing issues that have been on the table for quite some time (I’m recalling Eisner and Dobbs’ 1998 article “Silent Pedagogy: How Museums Help Vistors Experience Exhibitions). I’m looking forward to checking out the action research tool!

    1. Hi Dana,
      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you mention Eisner’s article, it’s an important reference for invisible pedagogies in museums. I guess that the term silent and invisible have a lot in common. However Eisner still thinks of the visitor as a mere viewer and what we are trying in the collective is to foster a new relationship between museum+art/knowledge production+public being education at the core of this new paradigm of museum. Eisner points out very important factors that have to be considered but still remains, from my point of view, in a very superficial stage of a real transformation of invisible pedagogies. But this was written in the 80’s and was definitely a very disruptive way of thinking of museum education at that time and, in some cases, even nowadays (which is sad…).
      I would love you to try out the action-research tool! In IP what we usually do is design both, educative program and research plan at the same time. What is that you are trying for the first time in your program and you would like to see how it works? What tools and resources will you be able to apply? Participant-observer, interviews, field diary… With the right documentation of the project and once it is over you will be able to reflect about what has happened, why has it happened and how could it be improved. And of course write it, share it and keep it on an archive. We need to build an Art Museum Education History and a stronger and empowered Museum Education Community!

  2. Hi Andrea, I find IP a very interesting approach. I’m wondering what readings would you recommend me to do? Especially for action research in education departments.
    Concerning the power-knowledge relationship between the museum and visitor, I agree with the idea of a more integrated participation with the public in the museum experience. However, for the type of museum that I work in, which is an art and history museum with a collection of European and Mexican Colonial art from XVI to XIX centuries. How do you think IP is applicable to this type of organization with a more traditional vision of power and knowledge?

    1. Hi Olivia,
      I’m glad you found the article interesting. Although there is a lot written about the educational action research strategy I haven’t found yet too much written specifically for education departments in museums. We’ll have to start the practice and then write about it! Maybe one of the first and basic readings would be “Action Research for Educational Change” by John Elliott. One important thing to understand about the action-research strategy is that is qualitative (not quantitative) so it has nothing to do with the evaluations that we are used to develop in education departments and that are based on accountability requirements.
      In IP seminars we often have teachers and museum educators expressing their impossibility of making changes in their educational praxis because of the traditional character of the institutions they work with. We know that sometimes it takes a lot of effort and creativity but we always encourage educators to find a way of turning things to their best interests. In fact the more traditional the approach the more invisible pedagogies you will easily find and be able to transform. For example, the way the collection is displayed in your museum, which side of history is it telling the visitors? I’m remembering now the Fred Wilson’s project in Baltimore “Mining the museum” in which, by reorganizing the objects that were exhibited, the museum’s collection was presented in a new, critical light. An idea that just came to my mind is that you could give pictures to the participants and invite them to tell their own stories through a curating process. Maybe you could find a way in which the proposals could be shown to future visitors of the museum and you will be transforming one of the most important invisible pedagogy in museums: cultural hegemony, by introducing new cultural identities of your community.

  3. Hi, thanks for sharing this truly interesting information. I wonder if you could tell me where to find the action research tool that is underscored in your blog? Thanks.

    1. Thanks Sally! The action research tool has been used in education in general and in art education in particular for a long time. The basic idea of using it in museum education is for us to be able to find a way of knowing how our programs work from an intellectual-learning point of view and also to create new tools that will help us to improve the teaching-learning process in the museums. I’m not sure if your question is about materials (books and articles) or if you would like to know more about the use of the action-research tool in the projects Invisible Pedagogies has developed. Let me know how I can help!

    1. Thank you SO much Leah. It’s amazing how a lot of us (museum workers) are thinking of the education in museums in new and engaging ways in order to expand not only the education but also the concept of the museum itself. I would love to talk to you and know what parts of the ideas presented in this article you feel are more important or urgent to develop and start to work on.
      Thanks again!

  4. I am really interested in your work and the endevour to make invisible the visible. I wonder whether another invisible pedagogy centres around the privileging of the discursive over the material? The central tenets of contemporary museum/gallery and early years pedagogy rest upon social constructivist assumptions that understanding, significance and meaning are developed in coordination with other human beings via language.Whilst it is not my intention to negate or dispute these assumptions, I might suggest that relations with the non-human (e.g. objects/ artifacts) can also act as constitutive factors in learning and becoming. Perhaps it is worth exploring, especially with very young children, where language isn’t necessarily an indicator of learning?

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