Consequential Progressions from our 3RDspace: Connecting our thinking and next steps

On our 5th day about an hour before lunch time, all 3RDspacers refamiliarized themselves with Ben Garcia's What We Do Best from the Journal of Museum Education. His article reframed the challenge before museums, schools, and our larger societal institutions who are struggling to re-invent themselves as learning spaces.

We engaged in an exercise to interact with and learn from the article as text to be worked with, and, our 3RDspace history as a human-created textualized experience to be examined and learned from. To do so, extracted compelling notions from the article and collected them on the left-hand column of the working sheet. Then, in the middle column, we sought examples from our 3RDspace week experience we believed were examples of that theory or Big Idea in action. Then, more importantly, in the far-right column, we examined the process involved in the enactment of that experience; what the experience allowed the group to build and understand; and why we think that.

Following some individual work time, we paired up and then into groups of 4 to make sense together of the relationship between taking on a theoretical lens to help us make sense of a lived experience. We then engaged in a whole-group discussion sharing the understandings we were beginning to make. The Venn diagram below provides an interactive characterization of this experience.

Because we ran out of time while the conservation was becoming richer and insightful, we invite you to do the following "next-steps." You have a few choices:

1. Easiest to do because you're busy is: Respond to this post writing what you jotted in your own three columns during that 5th day. This data will be invaluable to the group.

2. Takes more time, but will be fun: Part I: Use the Ethnographies of the Day created by the PBWP Fellows as one kind of Meta-Text of the 5 day experience; and read through Jeff's Storify narrative that harnessed our Tweets on #3RDspace as story constituted by individual perspectives of the whole experience; and read through your own notes and memories of the event.

Part 2: Select a compelling passage from Ben Garcia's article. What's he saying in that passage or compelling quote?

Part 3: Examine the 3RDspace experience through the theoretical perspective that Garcia offered. See where that takes you.

Storify Narrative by Jeff Hudson Jeff Hudson's Storify Narrative of 3RDspace 2012


It will be interesting, and very important, to see what we all come up with. One very practical aspect for this exercise is as site leaders, you will be able to examine a process or technology we used during the 3RDspace from a theoretical perspective. This kind of examination then pushes us to analyze the event's structure and think through what that experience does to help a culture of learning form and what that culture of learning actually learns. It is through this careful "look-see" or exploring, that we can then envision how to reformulate or enact them in our own local settings.

Happy EthnoSleuthing!

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Big Ideas:

 "It’s time for museums t0 fully embrace their educational potential, articulate their public value, and enter into the rational conversation about how children and adults learn."

"By building local partnerships between schools and museums, you are strengthening two basic community institutions."

"Now is the time for museums to fully embrace their educative potential, to become articulate about their public value and to enter the national conversation about how children and adults learn."

Example of the idea in action:

Someone made the comment, "value the process over the product, the process is the goal." This really registered with me as I think back to time we spent at CAM with Takashi Hurisaki. The work we did with Takashi allowed us to interact with the museum, its artists, and their work, not just observe the art in the museum. By working and talking with the artist, I had a much broader appreciation for the exhibit of his work. This was a very special, unique opportunity, to step into the artists shoes, to learn what motivates Takashi to create the kind of art he creates, to have an opportunity to try out the art itself. I hope to have the opportunity to offer this type of opportunity to more students in the future.

Do you remember how it happened?

When we met with Takashi I remember the following sequences of events:

  1. We were given a simplistic explanation of the activity prior to our arrival at CAM.
  2. Limited information was given to us once at Cam. It was more of a “learn by doing” exercise.
  3. We were given lots of time to experiment with the latex and “produce” the art, and had the support of the artists throughout the exercise.
  4. We spent time meeting with Takashi and the other artists, sharing about their work, techniques, and projects.
  5. We viewed Takashi’s exhibit.
  6. Debrief with 3rd Spacers and collaborated about the experience.

Having the opportunity to work with Takashi the artist, produce art, discuss the process with the artist,  view  slides if his other projects and finally see his exhibit was very rewarding. I learned a lot about the work behind the work that Takashi does before he creates a piece of artwork, how he studies a community, how he experiments with his medium. Having the opportunity and encouragement to paint with the artist’s support was an exciting and memorable experience, one that students of all ages would find engaging and enjoyable. The process was much more valuable to me then the product we produced at the end. The process of the repeated collaborative exercises we went through during our 5 day 3rd Space Institute were enriching and will be very valuable to share with our local colleagues as we move forward as a writing project.  

"Museum educators need to make a case for the core values of museum learning (that lie within a larger ecosystem of informal education) and for a paradigm that values informal and formal education as complementary and equally significant in lifelong learning." (Garcia)

This is what I recall: that museums embody a different (informal) experience than what students get in school (formal), and that museum visits are most productive  when the school hierarchy is eliminated and everyone is a student, responsible for her own interpretation.  Judy mentioned our work with latex and cheese cloth as an illustration of engagement in creating art, without regard to final product, the so-called "work of art."  I'd apply her point to our encounter with the Anselm Keifer work at the SLAM.  Certainly our activities revolved around the "product" but we were much more focused on own own reactions to it and how to express them, in ways that might be considered inappropriate for a conventional museum tour.

I keep coming back to the idea that learning must be active (as opposed to Freireian "banking") and that the best learning occurs when everyone contributes, which (I think) is where crowd sourcing comes from.  If we de-emphasize rank, decorum and products, encourage "wrong" responses (like screaming in a museum) and build community among all participants (all those things happened in St. Louis), we expand the definition of "education" and  we have the opportunity to incorporate the core values of museum learning in the schools.

I think maybe I haven't answered the questions Ralph posed.  But that's all I got for now.  I'll try again when I've looked at the ethnographies. 


The big idea that stayed with  me from reading Ben Garcia's article is that the work of museums is supporting intellectual growth.  I find it ironic that schools don't embrace intellectual growth publicly, but allow themselves to get caught up in the minutiae of the latest fads, standards, templates, etc.  Any good lesson is going to include the CCSS.  It is really easy to backmap them onto a well developed lesson or unit.  Instead, the spokespeople for schools allow legislatures to control the language and the subsequent assessment.

I guess that we could spend some time spelling out what we mean by intellectual growth.  Surely, it mens familiarity with the arts and using the arts to develop a humanistic outlook in life.  I applaud Garcia's willingness to name what is important not only in museum education, but in education generally.

I would like to reread his article and hope there is more discussion of it here in the our NING.  I would also hope that people would share resources.  A friend has strongly recommended Stanley Elkins' The Object Stares Back. If anyone is familiar with it, please comment.

1. Theoretical Perspective/Big Idea

 intrinsic motivation

instead of narrowing the conceptions that were important, we expanded, looking for broad solutions that would meet all needs

2. Examples of that idea in action

3 E's with a problem from our own site

3. Do you remember how it happened? What did it enable the group to do?

We explored each of our site leaders' needs, put together a collective need statement, envisioned possibilities for solving/meeting this need (with input from the rest of group) and then created a plan for how we would enact our vision by pulling from the ideas generated on the envision stage. We then took this one more revolution by listening to needs of other groups and letting them listen to ours, providing one more round of potential solutions.

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