The assignment is going to outline how ‘Eureka! A Museum for Children’ plays a part in learning outside the classroom environment. The museum will be examined to see how it plays a role in life-long learning.
We define learning outside the classroom as:
“The use of places other than the classroom for teaching and learning.”
Every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances. Learning is a process of active engagement with experience. It is what people do when they want to make sense of the world. It may involve the development or deepening of skills, knowledge, understanding, awareness, values, ideas and feelings, or an increase in the capacity to reflect. Effective learning leads to change, development and the desire to learn more. (DfEE 2000)
Learning outside the classroom is about raising achievement through an organised, powerful approach to learning in which direct experience is of prime importance. This is not only about what we learn but importantly how and where we learn. (Learning Outside the Classroom (2006))
… museums and galleries …, in themselves, understood as educational establishment. They were set up to enable people to educate themselves... Museums were one opportunity among many of acquiring knowledge. (Hooper-Greenhill 1994, p.1)
Museums are still very much thought of as educational establishments but the audience for whom they cater for varies very much from one museum to another. Formal and informal educations are two terms that are used to describe the type of education that a person receives. Formal is the set ‘curriculum’ that is taught in the traditional school setting. Whereas informal education is the curriculum taught in museums or other institutes that are outside of the schools. (Hein 1998, p.7)
Children’s museums are not museums in the traditional sense. They are different in their missions, in their approach and in their specifically targeted age-group. (Pearce 1998, p.19) Eureka! is a museum that has been specially designed for a specific age group, and is the UK’s first and foremost museum for children.
Historical context of Eureka!
Eureka was first opened in July 1992 by HRH The Prince of Wales, as an educational charity, the idea for Eureka was modelled on the North American concept of a Children’s Museum and remains to be the only museum of its type and scale. The basis of children’s museums is in interactivity, learning by doing, learning through fun, learning through play. (Pearce 1998, p.16) Since it has opened it has enjoyed unrivalled success, proving popular with children, parents and teachers alike.
At Eureka! there are over 400 hands on, must touch exhibits, each teaching children more about themselves and reflecting the world in which they are growing up in, it is achieved by a fun approach to learning and development. Eureka! meets National Curriculum requirements, it has six themed galleries and a full programme of interactive workshops covering an imaginative range of curriculum themes to support Foundation, KS1 and KS2 learning. The education service aims to take the hassle out of school visits by providing fully structured itineraries, picnic and storage facilities, staff support, teaching resources and work sheets.
Museums are the world of ‘infotainment’ and ‘edutainment’ where people have fun but also learn something. (Pearce 1998, p.80)
Teachers are provided with an education resource pack which includes detailed notes on how to get the best from each of the museum’s section and indicates links to the National Curriculum. There are also special workshops which may be booked for school classes. (Pearce 1998, p.67) The museum also provides special designed packages for the school...