ERIC Number: EJ721292
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Nov
Reference Count: 30
"Seeing It For Real?"--Authenticity, Theatre and Learning in Museums
Jackson, Anthony; Leahy, Helen Rees
Research in Drama Education, v10 n3 p303-325 Nov 2005
This article reflects on the findings of a nationally-funded research project which investigated the practice and impact of museum theatre at two UK museums: the Imperial War Museum, London, and the People's History Museum, Manchester. The research team tracked the museum experiences of eight groups of primary school children, half of whom encountered a theatre event during their museum visits, while the other half followed alternative routes (including elements such as a guided tour, object-handling, role-play, and task-oriented workshops). The aim of the investigation was to assess the effectiveness of theatre within the education programmes of the respective museums, and to compare and contrast the different learning outcomes of theatre and non-theatre sessions, monitored over a period of two months. Although based on a small sample, the findings (which we consider under such headings as "active learning and ownership" and "empathy and the making of connections") suggest that, when well designed and sufficiently integrated into the museum experience as a whole, theatre can offer a significant enhancement to learning by children of this age. Far from being a distraction from the collections and themes of the museum, the incorporation of performance alongside other more traditional approaches, demonstrably improved children's grasp of the personal stories associated with, but not always explicit in, the museum collections and displays, and created strong and memorable resonances still evident several months after the visit. We further consider some of the implications of the research for current museum theatre practice and, in particular, the questions it raised about the interplay between different notions of "authenticity" in the museum displays and the performed narratives.
Descriptors: Personal Narratives, Museums, Elementary School Students, Foreign Countries, Program Effectiveness, Drama, Theater Arts, Teaching Methods, Active Learning
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (London); United Kingdom (Manchester)