n. (Latin: educatio, educere, to guide, to lead out of) – Equivalent in French: éducation; Spanish: educación; German: Erziehung, Museums- pädagogik; Italian: istruzione; Portuguese: educaçāo.
Generally speaking, education means the training and development of human beings and their capacities by implementing the appropriate means to do so. Museum education can be defined as a set of values, concepts, knowledge and practices aimed at ensuring the visitor’s development; it is a process of acculturation which relies on pedagogical methods, development, fulfilment, and the acquisition of new knowledge.
Illustration: Brian Danaher
1. The concept education should be defined in relation to other terms, the first of these being instruction, which “concerns the mind and is understood as knowledge acquired by which one becomes skilful and learned” (Toraille, 1985). Education relates to both the heart and the mind, and is understood as knowledge which one aims to update in a relationship which sets knowledge in motion to develop understanding and individual reinvestment. Education is the action of developing moral, physical, intellectual and scientific values, and knowledge. Knowledge, know-how, being and knowing how to be are four major components in the educational field. The term education comes from the Latin “educere”, to lead out of (i.e. out of childhood) which assumes a dimension of active accompaniment in the transmission process. It is connected with the notion of awakening, which aims to arouse curiosity, to lead to questioning and develop the capacity to think. The purpose of informal education is thus to develop the senses and awareness; it is a development process which presupposes change and transformation rather than conditioning and inculcation, notions it tends to oppose. The shaping of it therefore happens via instruction which conveys useful knowledge, and education which makes this knowledge transformable and able to be reinvested by the individual to further the process of his becoming a human being.
2. In a more specifically museum context, education is the mobilisation of knowledge stemming from the museum and aimed at the development and the fulfilment of individuals, through the assimilation of this knowledge, the development of new sensitivities and the realisation of new experiences. “Museum pedagogy is a theoretical and methodological framework at the service of educational activities in a museum environment, activities the main purpose of which is to impart knowledge (information, skills and attitudes) to the visitor” (Allard and Boucher, 1998). Learning is defined as “an act of perception, interaction and assimilation of an object by an individual”, which leads to an “acquisition of knowledge or the development of skills or attitudes” (Allard and Boucher, 1998). Learning relates to the individual way in which a visitor assimilates the subject. With regard to the science of education or intellectual training, if pedagogy refers more to childhood and is part of upbringing, the notion of didactics considered as the theory of dissemination of knowledge, the way to present knowledge to an individual whatever his or her age. Education is wider, and aims at the autonomy of the individual.
We can mention other related concepts which shade and enrich these different approaches. The concepts of museum activities or cultural action, like that of interpretation or mediation, are often invoked to describe the work carried out with the public in the museum’s efforts at transmission. “I am teaching you” says a teacher, “I am allowing you to know” says a mediator (Caillet and Lehalle, 1995). This distinction aims to reflect the difference between the act of training, and a process of awareness appealing to an individual who will finish the work according to the extent to which he assimilates the content before him. Training assumes constraint and obligation, whereas the museum context supposes freedom. In Germany the term pedagogy, or Pädagogik is used more frequently, and of the word used to describe education within museums is Museumspädago- gik. This refers to all the activities that a museum may offer, regardless of the age, education or social background of the public concerned.
Main image and for social networks: Brush Education, EVE’s Archives