President Report 2010

Hello everyone on the eve of the MA conference in Melbourne.

The committee recently held a teleconference meeting to discuss a number of matters, several of which it has been considering for much of 2010 such the upcoming conference and the Australian Curriculum. This is my usual update to members following that meeting. In it you will hear about the latest news on these matters and some information on two exciting new initiatives: a new graduate diploma course from the ANU which will focus in part on museum education, and a symposium for museum educators and teacher educators being planned for late March 2011 at the University of Canberra.

It was a pleasure at our last committee teleconference to welcome two new members to the committee who will be the joint representatives from WA. They are Peta Osborne and Rachael Wilsher-Saa, both from the WA Museum. This means that once again the committee has a full contingent of state and territory representatives which is great news.

MA conference
With the MA conference in Melbourne now just a week away, I’m delighted to confirm that there will be many offerings for our members. I hope you will be able to make it to the conference for some or all of the time. If you cannot attend then I’m hopeful that we will be able to provide much of the education related content on the MA website under education and/or the MaNexus website.

As I mentioned in the previously, there will be 12 education related papers and a workshop delivered throughout the conference on topics ranging from digital learning in museums to engaging with different communities and new educational roles for collections. In addition, international guest speaker Stephen Heppell will speak on the topic, ‘What do we want technology to do for us and our visitors?’, and will later discuss his ideas further in a workshop session. We are also delighted that Margaret Tolland and Julie Noanoa from the Museum Education Association of New Zealand (MEANZ) will be attending the conference and delivering a paper entitled: ‘Cultural connections: a conversation with Aotearoa museum educators’. This paper is part of a continuing dialogue between MAENN and MEANZ aimed at exploring a range of collaborations between the two groups including a possible conference/symposium between Australian and New Zealand museum educators in the next few years. To this end Margaret and Julie will be also attending the network’s AGM on Friday 1 October where this and other ideas will be discussed further.

At the AGM we will also hear from committee member Janette Griffin who visited the USA earlier in the year and visited several museums. The meeting will also include office bearer reports, including short reports from state and territory reps who are able to attend. I would encourage you to attend and raise issues of interest and/or concern to you. This is one of our rare opportunities as a national organisation to meet face to face so please make the most of the chance to get involved with the work of museum education on a broader level. It is unlikely this year that any office bearers will be vacating their positions as terms generally last two year, but come and learn about the work of committee members so that you are ready to put your hand in 12 months at the next annual conference.

The last matter to remind you of related to the conference is our celebration of 35 years of museum education association in Australia (1975-2010). Lunch will be held at the Leigh Scott Room in the Bailleu Library at Melbourne University. Come and meet fellow museum educators – past and present – and enjoy a few anecdotes over the years. My thanks as ever to Ian Watts who has helped to organise the event.

Australian Curriculum update
You may have noticed that in the paper I’m delivering at the MA conference on the Australian curriculum that I made the now clearly hasty claim that the curriculum documents for the first four leaning areas are likely to be completed by the time of the conference! This sadly is now definitely not going to be the case with the latest forecasts now predicting a release date of sometime in December. This is disappointing news (for me especially!) but perhaps is not so concerning if the time is use wisely to produce better curricula – we can only hope this is going to be the case. Nevertheless, despite this news, there are great opportunities for museum educators with the advent of an Australian Curriculum and we will continue to make time at committee level to explore possibilities on behalf of members. At the committee meeting vice president Jenny Horder gave an excellent summary of the latest changes to the Science Curriculum but again it is likely that further changes will be made by December.

Two other matters
(i) New ANU course, 2011
A new graduate diploma course from the ANU from 2011 will focus in part on museum education. Entitled, ‘The Graduate Certificate in Museum Education and Heritage Interpretation’, one of the objectives of the new course (which may include articulate to a Masters degree by 2012) is to help museum educators/professionals to upgrade to a specific qualification and explore their profession practice. More information about this exciting opportunity for members is attached to this email.

(ii) Symposium for museum educators and teacher educators, March 2011
The goal of the symposium is to encourage museum educators and teacher educators to establish a closer dialogue around matters of common interest. This excellent initiative is particularly relevant in the light of the advent of the Australian Curriculum and may lead to some longer term partnerships between the two education sectors. I would encourage you to seriously consider attending this symposium if you are able to and also possibly contribute a paper or workshop. Organiser Phil Roberts, teacher education lecturer in history at UC, is very keen to hear from MAENN members. Further information about costs etc will be available in the near future.

David Arnold
President, Museums Australia Education National Network
Manager, Education, National Museum of Australia

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