HOW DO MUSEUMS RELATE TO PSYCHOLOGY?

Lightning Talk
Marcia Mayper, USA

After announcing a trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum the students exclaimed, “What does a museum have to do with Psychology?! My response was, “…..wait and see”.

I teach computer, English and psychology classes at a small private vocational college in Massachusetts. Various medias and learning modalities are integrated into all classes. When a trip outside the school is not an option, pertinent films, Internet offerings, a plethora of Quicktime clips and lectures from various colleges and universities are used. Ideally getting out of the building to visit a local museum to see and experience first hand, is an optimal experience and learning endeavor.

Teaching has afforded me to work in many locations and with all age levels, thus challenging a creative approach to address the population at hand. The students come from many diverse backgrounds and environments. They are seeking certification to start new careers, obtain job skills and few have the goal of an associate or bachelor’s degree. The student population is derived from underprivileged, single parent homes, and many are single moms who are on Federal grants enabling them to attend college. Most students have barely ventured far from their city or town throughout their entire lives. The administration is supportive of having the students get out into their community. All local museums have an entrance fees. Most of the museums reduce the fee further or offer free entrance for this student population. Transportation is often an issue, as many students do not have cars. Carpooling has enabled the students to get to museums that are fairly close to the school.

Some of the challenges are students range in age from 18 to 50+, classes are 3.5 hours (too) long, some longer. Diverging from the class lectures and what they envision school is, is met with questions, but ultimately enthusiastically accepted.

The students are given a short questionnaire pre and post visit to the museums. Feedback has been extremely positive and often some comments make one smile.

 Taking it mobile….All museums have an Internet presence, the extent and quality of their web offerings vary greatly. The Smithsonian’s podcast – Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg inclusive of an excellent teacher guide complements both the online and site visits. Many museums and websites are bringing their vast collections to one’s fingertips. Google’s Cultural Institute and Art Project are just the beginning of what is being generated to inform, educate, enlighten. I often think museums will ultimately develop educational textbooks for the digital and online learning. The museums possess prime source materials, the creative staff, and data to generate appealing teaching tools. This too has the ability to generate a considerable revenue stream for museums. Perhaps the mention of museums will not only be associated with art, but other domains: music, science, history, social sciences, math, linguistics…..and effect a paradigm shift in education.

Yes, Norman Rockwell’s art is a source for psychological appeal and comprehension, take a look for yourself!