What job would you dream up for yourself? This is pretty hard question for me as I’ve always had a lot of different interests. Trying to narrow my focus while and thinking “why do I have to choose?” can make job searching tricky. Reading KnowledgWorks’ most recent publication, Exploring the Future Education Workforce: New Roles for an Expanding Learning Ecosystem, prompted me to spend some time thinking about what my dream job of the future would be.
Since this is a huge topic, I used the seven roles already presented in the paper to set some parameters. Of course I also wanted to incorporate the qualities of a healthy learning ecosystem, “learner-centered, equitable, modular and interoperable, and resilient.” Ok, so where do I fit in? I enjoy connecting people with ideas, teaching, and most of all, using all the resources of museums to serve the public. After some reflection, I came up with a future role that I am calling a “Museum Learning Manager.” This position would be sort of a floating manager within the museum of all things ecosystem related.
My first priority would be to collaborate with students who have curriculum goals that the museum can meet. Interested in history? Let’s work in the archives. Love building stuff? Exhibition design is for you. A lover of language and writing? How about working on text labels, press releases, exhibition catalogues and social media? Independent with attention to detail? Collections care is for you. Enthusiastic people person? You belong in the development office.
I wouldn’t just find a place for them though; I would also fill a sort of supervisor/mentor role. I would meet with them often as they work on their projects, complete assignments, and achieve their goals. Benchmarks could be set with the students, their parents, and learning pathway designer. I would work with the competency tracker and learning naturalist to ensure they are getting the most out of their time at the museum. I would also serve as the liaison between the museum and the pop-up reality producer. Providing access to resources, space, content specialists, etc. as they create their next learning experience.
I love all of this personally, but it would also be great for museums and schools. What better way to train young people who might go on to pursue a career in museums? What a great opportunity to allow access to resources schools might not have, such as object collections and exhibit space. Many people don’t realize all the different types of jobs there are in museums until they are well on their way to some other career. With a system like this one, students can find areas they are passionate about and want to keep pursuing as adults. Another benefit of this system is that it breaks down the perception that museums are elitist. By being a small part of a larger learning ecosystem, museums can know and be known by their communities and stakeholders.
What’s most exciting is that some of the activities above are already happening. The National Association of Museum Schools is working toward engaging, experiential learning for students through partnerships between museums and schools. I recommend reading Laney Tillner’s two posts on the Center for the Future of Museums for a bite-sized look into the world of museum schools. It is so exciting to read about students working in museums to meet their educational goals!
This is what excites me about the future of education. What about you?
Adrienne Turnbull-Reilly is a museum educator living and working in Dorchester, MA. She got her Masters in Anthropology and Museum Studies from the University of Denver. She sits on the Greater Boston Museum Educator Roundtable planning committee, as well as serving as the Emerging Museum Professionals chair. She is interested in museum education, museums as agents of change, and quality education for all. Read her blog at cabinetsandcuriosity.squarespace.com.