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4 reasons you should vote for “Partnering with museums for hands-on learning year-round” for SXSW today!

Category: Alliance Blog
Image of the South by Southwest logo and a picture from a past meeting graphic

Dearest colleagues, thank you for taking the time out to read this blog. I need your help.

Please vote to allow me to attend and present at SXSWEdu (South by Southwest Education).

My presentation is entitled, “Partnering with museums for hands-on learning year-round.” Voting is easy. All you have to do is quickly create a free account and click on the thumbs-up button on my session here. You can view my video proposal and objectives when you vote.

If you need more convincing, here are four reasons you should vote for me:

  1. We want museum representation at the conference! I want to ensure that museums are more frequently thought of as the critical educational resources we know them to be and we need to have a seat at the table in most conversations about education in this country. At the American Alliance of Museums, we try to enter more spaces where we can share information about the possibilities of museums with other educators, both traditional and non-conventional teachers and administrators. We champion the powerful link between museums and education, and the more museum representation at educational events the better!
  2. We want to share and inspire classroom teachers and administrators to collaborate with museums. This presentation will be a how-to guide for educators on why and how to use the assets of museums—physical, digital and human—to fuel and amplify their classrooms and curriculums. It is a museum partnership 101 presentation aimed to shatter stereotypes of museums “as nothing more than end of the year field trip destination.” Classroom teachers and administrators need to know about object-based learning techniques from our many varied museums. We want teachers and administrators to understand that we have so much more to offer, year-round to schools, but that our great educational assets are often overlooked and underused. It will demonstrate why education is at the core of our museum mission statements and how teachers and administrators can best connect with their local museums.
  3. Children learn best through objects, interaction, and experiences that only museums can give them. I know this isn’t news to most of you but museum education is transformational. During these days, don’t we all need more support and exposure to both innovative ideas and tested, tried, and true strategies and promising practices? Museums offer us both through public and school programming. Don’t all of us need to touch, apply, encounter, step out of our norms and try something new? I know that I need to rediscover and explore my world hands-on and have since I was a little girl. I still remember my first visits to museums 30 years ago in ways that I have not remembered my classroom lessons. I want my children to do the same. In fact, my four month old daughter is starting to make sense of this world and her own body through interactions with objects and they are helping her coordinate her hands, mind and body as she learns to grasp.  And my three year old son is beginning to use objects to organize, order and count. He calls museums “the people store,” because it is where he engages others and things and can use his body and mind to learn. He replicates the things he sees adults doing at the people store– like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up, and it helps him begin to make sense of everything else. He is in the “why?” stage of development and museums are some of the few places that have answers and labels to help me respond to his never-ending questions. This is the power of object-based learning that I know from my experiences as a student, educator and parent, and it is my responsibility and job to share that with as many people as possible.
  4. Museums and objects can help us process this difficult present moment. Many contemporary events have been sparked over disagreements about the significance of statues and conflicting understandings of our shared history including this past weekend’s tragic events in Charlottesville. Statues, symbols, and art reflect power and embody power of their own. They contain multiple narratives and stories and it is critical to tell those stories carefully. We need to curate and craft the stories we tell with these objects. It is important to allow people to actively touch, experiment and engage those objects with others. Facilitated dialogues are a means to achieve a more complex and dynamic, shared reality. Going beyond the classroom, into our public spaces and museums, is a way to better understand history and historic sites in real time. This way we can begin to answer the questions surrounding us, such as: Why are things the way they are?  I often employ the Socratic teaching technique of posing questions rather than providing answers. So I ask: Who better to teach us than museum educators? What better method is there than collaborating and partnering with museum educators and museum educational initiatives that go beyond the one time field trip? How can we cultivate a lifetime of empathy and understanding through object-based learning?
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Thank you for taking the time out to vote for me and help me start a necessary dialogue in one of the most exciting conferences right now –SXSWEdu. It is a forum of teachers and administrators looking for strategies to take into their schools and classrooms during these turbulent times to help young people make sense of the inflammatory rhetoric swirling around them and an ever-shifting world order. I believe that sharing our trusted museum educational resources and case studies will help us create better futures filled with millions of hands-on museum school partnerships ahead for my children and us all.


The SXSW EDU® Conference & Festival cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. The annual four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, immersive workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings, early-stage startups, business opportunities and networking. SXSW EDU is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals. Join the passionate and innovative community at SXSW EDU, March 5-8, 2018 in Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit

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1 Comment

  1. Timely article Sage! I agree and commend your voice for partnerships between museums and schools, or any group of learners for that matter. I am blessed to serve the role of Education Coordinator for a beautiful museum in the central Sierra Nevada range, in California. We are the Central Sierra Historical Society and Museum nestled among the pines and rich history at 5500 ft. elevation in Shaver Lake, California.( ). We are a nonprofit, existing because of like-minded individuals and organizations who believe in the mission of museums as hubs of education and excellence for all entrants. Our P.E.P. (Partnership in Education Program) serves all of Central California, namely Fresno county, as an interactive and inspiring place of discovery for all students to experience. We invite schools of every classification, unique learners, and all inquisitive minds to visit at NO COST!
    I love your statement, “Facilitated dialogues are a means to achieve a more complex and dynamic, shared reality.”
    You have my vote Sage!

    Happy Trails,

    Nettie Carroll
    Education Coordinator, Museum of the Central Sierra

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