Summer of Learning: Interning at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Summer of Learning: Interning at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

  When I was in 9th grade, I visited the Penn Museum for the first time and it changed my life. It sparked my interest in Anthropology and a desire to one day work in a museum. The museum has a vast collection of objects, the amount unheard of for a University Museum. 6 years later and I’m now interning at the museum in two separate departments: the Learning Programs Department whose main focus is the K-12 audience, and the Public Programs Department who focuses on the general population. Both are two separate entities but both focus on public engagement and teaching, 2 pillars of the museum’s mission statement. I knew I wanted to work somewhere in museum education in the future, so being able to intern in both departments was a perfect fit! In the Learning Programs Department, I work under Kevin Schott, the Guide Programs Manager, and Allyson Mitchell, the Outreach Programs Manager both of which who are so great and amazing. Kevin is the person I go to whenever I’m confused, 10/10 times he has had answers for me. The department has several other people who are all museum educators and work on different aspects in the department. I am so grateful to be able to work alongside them since they are some of the nicest and most welcoming people I have ever met! The first day of work, over 400 kids came into the museum, all around the same time, and it was the most organized chaos I have ever seen. Everyone in the department was calm and handled all of the hyper kids with ease...
why education is important: sentimentalism and other shenanigans

why education is important: sentimentalism and other shenanigans

Do you know that feeling when you’re running around for a whole day, and when you finally sit down on your couch at home, you realize that you’ve actually been running around for about two months straight? Yes, I’m happy to say that was me this summer at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I’m also happy to say that this pace didn’t cause my time at SAAM to skim by in a superficial way, but very much the opposite. My time was so chock full of different experiences that it will take me a while to unwind them all out. I’m going to work on just one knot right now–a way to articulate why education is important. Education has always been a presence in my life. Besides the few years when I didn’t know what I was doing (specifically ages 0-3), I’ve never not been a student. But since working with the Education Department at SAAM on several projects, the main one being a professional development program for teachers called Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities Through Art, I have really tried to put words to how education has played a significant role in my own life and the impact it can have on others. So here it goes: Education is important because it provides the tools people need to become their own educators. It creates citizens of the world who are curious and who care about the world and its people. It empowers people to know and believe that their voice is valid, but that silence is important sometimes too. It challenges people to challenge themselves–to stretch who they are, what they know, what they feel, and what they believe–in...
Teaching Visual and Linguistic Literacy at SAAM

Teaching Visual and Linguistic Literacy at SAAM

This summer, I am interning with the Education Department at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I am especially helping with a professional development program called Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities through Art. It is a weeklong program that seeks to provide teachers from around the country with the tools they need to incorporate art in their social studies and English/language arts classrooms. This program is interesting to me because it encourages both a visual and a linguistic literacy, emphasizing the parallels between the two. In my personal experience in academia, writing a good paper has been privileged above such skills as interpreting symbols in a photograph or analyzing materials and texture in a sculpture. Oftentimes, a person’s intelligence or intellectual capability are judged by the words he or she can understand and the words with which he or she chooses to express him or herself. That’s just not fair, especially today, because though we are surrounded by words, we are also surrounded by visual stimuli. Whether you are viewing a political cartoon, a crime scene, or your friends’ facial expressions, knowing how to read the visuals surrounding you is just as important as knowing how to read the words. That’s why I like this Institute, I think. It teaches teachers how to incorporate and connect visual and linguistic literacies to reach out to a variety of learners and to empower students to be curious and thoughtful about the world around them in different ways. Have a great day. -Courtney Carter,...