I’m in Amsterdam with my colleague, John Nash, for the European League of Middle Level Education (ELMLE) conference. Yesterday I facilitated an all-day preconference with a small group of teachers and administrators on the topic of Preparing Students for What Is and Will Be. Our discussions were fabulous. Today John conducted an energetic Design Thinking workshop that was very well-received. Tomorrow I keynote the conference and also do a session on setting up a RSS reader and making it work for you as an educator. I’m greatly enjoying my interactions with these international school educators from all across Europe.
photo © 2007 Charles Hutchins | more info (via: Wylio)John and I are getting a chance to explore the city as well. In addition to spending a lot of time riding the trams, wandering around, people-watching, and general culture-absorbing, we also have hit a few museums and city hotspots.
The Van Gogh Museum was interesting but I liked the Rijks Museum even better. Imagine my ‘delight,’ however, to see scores of Dutch middle school children in the latter running from exhibit to exhibit, quickly jotting down 2– to 5–word answers in order to fill in blank spaces on worksheets given to them by their teachers. I know this is a common way to do museum field trips in the United States but until that instant I hadn’t given any thought to how universal this practice might be.
Is this a common way to do school-to-museum field trips across international locations?
Do students ever get much from this style of museum visitation?
How do you say ‘worksheet’ in Dutch?
Welcome in The Netherlands, I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay.
The translation of ‘worksheet’ is ‘werkblad’, and yes it’s a common way for students to actively engage them in a museum. I don’t think that filling in ‘2-5 word answers’ is really the way of doing this. My wife, who is a ‘art’ teacher trainer expects a lot more of her students when they prepare activities for younger students in museums. Discussions, drawings, actual meetings with other artists, and all kinds of higher thinking skills provide for more deeper learning in a museum.
All the best!
Thanks for the comment! I would have loved to see some discussion and drawing and meetings with artists going on. That would have been great!
It’s been great meeting you here in Amsterdam at ELMLE. I’ve also enjoyed some of your stuff and look forward to more in the morning.
I received a fantastic response from the teachers here about my Team building and data presentation and its ideas.
I hope you are also getting the same feedback!
The worksheets are a very common sight in the Netherlands too. On our fieldtrips we always have the same discussion about using them or not. The worksheet gives them something concrete to do, but the effect is that they don’t look at anything else. They run through the building jotting down answers. Just the effect that you would like to avoid. Maybe they would be better off with a creative assignment where they have to make a top 10 of interesting things, photographing them and presenting them to the rest of the group at the end of the day or back at school.
My wife was a high school choir director for many years and every spring was the trip to some music contest. In addition to the unavoidable amusement park activity, she also planned a visit to a local science museum.
To make the trip more instructional, as well as curry favor with the “core” teachers, she created a packet of activities the kids had to complete during their time in the museum. Some was fill in the blank, of course, but it always included a written reflection, which she graded like any other essay.
I’m not sure of the overall educational value of the exercise but it did remind her students that the academic and artistic must go together. I think most of them actually enjoyed the museums, and I know I did!
Last August, I took a friend and teenage daughter into New York City. We went to MoMA and a few other museums. The teen looked bored and annoyed that we hadn’t taken her shopping or something, until we came around a corner and came face-to-face with “Starry Night” by Vincent VanGogh.
“Is that the real thing?” she asked.
“It’s not a reproduction?” she insisted on knowing.
“No, it’s the real painting. By Van Gogh. Yes.”
And the rest of the trip was fine.