Hi all, this is a reflection paper of my tour. Any comments, feedback, or correction of grammar errors are very welcome. :) Please help me to improve more!
With the nurturing perspectives, I designed my tour in a way which can give learners a safety but challenging environment. This environment was designed to help them to learn confidently. In doing this, I proposed many questions to encourage conversation instead of telling them what to believe or what they must to know. My tour outline entirely followed this principle; the questions were designed in an open-ended form to welcome visitors' thoughts without having the pressure of giving correct answers.
In terms of the assumptions regarding visitors revealed in my tour, I think the most apparent one is that I assumed visitors are capable individuals-even they are very young children-they have good ability to appreciate artworks and make contributions to collaborative conversation. This assumption is not only from my professional background, but also from my attempt to break up my impression that "only people who are familiar with art have the ability to appreciate it". Although the intended group in my tour is kindergarteners, this assumption of mine might also for other age groups.
The assumption regarding art and museums is a viewpoint of making these two more friendly and intimate to visitors, especially for those who might have never been to art museums. Personally I always feel art museums are far away from my life, what even worse is that I am fear of being judged by how much I understand the artworks. However, this class constantly challenges my stereotype of art museums; my new recognition forms and underpins this assumption. As for the assumption of culture, while culture is hard and typically only becomes obvious when there is a conflict, I deem that artworks are definitely wonderful media to communicate ideas of culture with visitors. Additionally, artworks also serve as a vehicle to encourage visitors to reflect back on the artworks in terms of their own. Every artist has his/her own background and is slightly or hugely affected by his/her background. The cultural influence has often been transformed by artists into the artworks. Hence, this assumption is in fact a reflection of how important it is to understand the cultural elements in the artwork and what role do docents' and visitors' cultural backgrounds play in interpreting the artworks.
I think the assumptions in my tour were all intentional ones. It might be possible that there were assumptions which were unintentional yet I was not aware of them. To me, it seemed not easy to be conscious of those are unintentional ones. This may be another task for me to be more sensitive to the information.
According to the definition in Stapp (1984), museum literacy includes visual literacy and the ability of independently and effectively using museum resources. My tour is more likely a visual literacy than museum literacy. In my tour I primarily wanted to cultivate visitors' ability of communicating with the visual information (Giorgis, Johnson, Bonomo, Colbert, & al, 1999). While visitors are not allowed to touch artworks by hands, they touch by eyes. All the questions I designed to lead the tour were efforts to fit this purpose. In my opinion, since this is a single tour, maybe it is a little difficult to develop visitors' museum literacy in such a short time. Yet I am still thinking if there are any possibilities to start to develop visitors' museum literacy even in one single visit.
The strongest feature of my tour was to provide visitors as many chances as possible to assist them in expressing their thoughts. Therefore, when I demonstrated it to the class, I was trying to make my tour fit this feature. However, I was too concerned what to teach so that many times I rushed to take the say back. In other words, I cared about the goals of the stop rather than learners' responses. It seemed that I merely kept asking questions yet without assisting the visitors to connect their comments to the artwork. I should remember these questions were for inspiring visitors' ideas rather than merely going through them. I need to be more flexible instead of being rigid in using my questions.
Basically, my tour nicely mirrored my teaching philosophy. I believe learning is a construction through social interaction and allow individuals to learn in their own ways. I tried to create chances to encourage social interaction. Yet, offering personal learning was not so obvious or well considered in my tour design. While I offer the visitors opportunities to speak up their thoughts, primarily the visitors learned in the same way-there was not much individual flavors. This is in fact the hardest part for me to well reflect my teaching philosophy.
In designing the tour, the challenges I gave myself are (1) trying to let the visitors to be the master of their learning and (2) being more flexible. In my demonstration, trying not to intervene too much was a task for me. The main reason of challenging myself particularly in these three aspects is that I do not want to be the powerful person in this process. I want visitors to feel safe and can control their own learning. In addition, I always want to control things which I am not familiar with, for example, arts. Therefore I tried to challenge myself in these ways to learn how to learn with learners.
"Teachers" refer to those who are responsible for teaching learners to learn in particular environments (Schwab, 1973). Art museum educators are responsible for assisting people to learn through resources in art museums. As early as in 1913, American Museum Association has defined museum educators as "interpreter of objects" (Ramsey, 1938). The next step I would pose for myself in the development as a gallery teacher is to learn more about how to become a better media to connect the artworks and visitors, as well as learn how to become a part of the learning community.