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Grace Barnett

Arts in the Elementary Schools


3/31/15
Professional Development Experience
On March 11, 2015 our section of Arts in the Elementary School
traveled to The Childrens Museum of the Upstate. Upon arriving, we
were greeted warmly and directed to a conference room. Here, we
learned some basic information about our hosts and the museum itself.
Following this introduction, we were given a few challenges to
complete whilst exploring. We were able to play with the many
interactive exhibits as though we never left the 4th grade. It was
exciting to relive play in a way that college students arent generally
given the opportunity to do so. Although I was incredibly impressed
with the overall experience of the museum, I must say that the most
inspiring moment for me was the initial greeting from two ladies, Karen
and Nancy.
I could not tell you everything that this sweet lady, Karen, told us
during her brief introductory speech; however, I was truly inspired by
her overall excitement towards the museum and children in general. In
the short time frame she spoke, she conveyed what it meant to be a
teacher. To me, it goes much deeper than simply giving students the
tools they need to succeed- its putting an emotional investment in
each student you encounter, with a passion to see them flourish. Ive

met very few people who have done this in a greater fashion than
Karen did. A quick story that she mentioned to us involved a young girl
who frequently visited the museum. Karen had become such a large
role in the girls life that as soon as she had a new Easter dress, she
felt compelled to bring it to the museum, simply to show her mentor.
The pride Karen emitted while telling this story was incomparable. This
demonstrated even more just how dedicated to children and meeting
their needs she is. I was inspired by her speech.
Following Karens montage of stories, Nancy, the president and
CEO of TCMU, began to lay out the museum for our class. Similar to
Karen, Nancy displayed a deep passion for the museum. She provided
us a detailed description of what each floor of the museum had to
offer. The amount of planning and detail that goes into the different
exhibits is truly amazing. They incorporated exhibits that are
accessible to students of all ages and physical limitations. I was
especially impressed to hear how many of the exhibits are wheel chair
accessible. She explained to us the skills that children can acquire at
the different exhibits, and gave us insight as to what the more popular
exhibits are. The museum covers a large variety of school subjects,
touching on many passions in which students can discover during their
visit. According to Nancy, the museum hopes to spark a lifelong
passion for curiosity and learning through play. Nancy made it clear

that her hopes for the many children that come into her museum are
boundless.
Something we have focused on since the beginning of class is
the concept of what is art and how to cultivate the search of art in a
classroom. Ive found that is an unanimous consensus that art can be
found anywhere, made of anything, by anyone. This idea focuses on
the uniqueness of each individual learner to make discoveries for
themselves through their own process of learning. According to Artful
Teaching- Five Best Questions About Arts Integration, No two learners
will construct knowledge in exactly the same way. But when we
embrace social constructivism, where knowledge is socially and
culturally mediated, we connect to the outside world, too; learning
does not happen in a vacuum, and what we know as participants in the
larger environment shapes how we make sense of new knowledge,
connect it to what we already know, and develop schemas for
understanding the world (Donahue & Stuart, 2010). This quote seems
to epitomize the goals of TCMU as described by our gracious hostesses.
The museum offers unlimited opportunities in which children can work
individually or collaboratively to explore an learn for themselves.
All in all, I took a lot out of the visit to the Childrens Museum of
the Upstate. I enjoyed the hands-on activities enthusiastically, and
reminisced on what it meant to play like a child. More importantly, I
was moved by the passion displayed by the employees of the museum.

It was eye opening to see other education majors doing something


outside of the teaching realm, which was comforting and exciting.
Whether I end up teaching for the rest of my life or pursue a career in a
similar field, I can only hope to hold children to similar standards as
Nancy and Karen. For many children to develop a passion for learning, I
believe all it takes is someone to believe in them and their capabilities.
I firmly believe that all children are capable of much greater academia
than the current school system provides, and it is in opportunities such
as visiting TCMU where these passions can be cultivated.

Works Cited
Donahue, David M., and Jennifer Stuart. Artful Teaching: Integrating the
Arts for Understanding across the Curriculum K-8. Teachers
College Press. 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027,
2010.