Ref. Verity Walker's comments:
While I accept the difficulty of obtaining lengthy qualifications at the same
time as earning a living, I am concerned that Verity underestimates the value of
teaching qualifications for museum education officers.
1. The process of getting a teaching qualification is the essential preparation
for creative teaching, both in the classroom and in museum or heritage
contexts. My own path - degree to PGCE to probationary year to several years in
teaching - meant that the ideas and theories established on the PGCE course were
then tempered by the realities of the subsequent teaching experience. However,
they always remained the principles on which all my teaching was built - and the
principles which guided my subsequent work outside the classroom. It's not
enough to give unqualified museum educators experience in the classroom - this
only gives them half the story.
2. I accept that museum education officers only see classes for a short period,
but this is a 'golden' period, like the initial session when a teacher
introduces a new course of work to a class - a teacher can win or lose the
children's enthusiasm at this time. However, this again is forgetting the
strategic, developmental side of the work. Educational ideas and principles
(tempered by classroom and staffroom experience) will be needed when setting up
a service for this particular audience. I'm sure the DfEE would indeed welcome
museum education officers as 'classroom assistants'! However, the recent DfEE
funded museum and gallery education projects are an indication that they take
museum education more seriously than this. Nevertheless I agree with the idea
that INSET for museum educators might include longer term stints in school.
3. I disagree with the suggestion that museum educators are 'refugee' teachers.
Of course we left teaching, but this was so that we could develop our careers
into areas for which we had a vocation. I suspect many museum education officers
planned to get into this area of work from the start, rather than choosing it as
an easier option after a few stressful years in school. Teaching experience was
an essential requirement, besides opening our eyes to the value of extra
curricular contributions to the life of a school. I would argue that teachers
who have made this career change have particular skills which make them more
suitable for museum education work - skills in resource production, the use of
documents, artefacts and historic buildings, and in the delivery of the 'golden'
lessons mentioned above. Those teachers who thrived more on the long term
development of a child's self confidence or social development, for example,
were right to stay in school. We also chose to take a serious cut in salary to
follow this vocation, in most cases!
I have recently received 105 returned questionnaires from GEM members giving
their views on training and future career development. When they have been
processed, they should shed some interesting light on our qualifications,
experience and career goals, as well as our thoughts on GEM's future training of
Going back to Vicky's original questions, my points above relate more to
practising museum education officers rather than barriers for our professional
development into senior management positions. My gut feeling about this is that
education is still seen as a Cinderella job in museums. This will only change
when museums involve education officers in management decisions as part of a
deliberate policy to give them experience which will enhance their career
prospects. Any perception that education officers are 'refugee' teachers (or
even teachers outside their normal environment) can only damage further our
professional status in museums.
I made a sideways move myself, choosing consultancy rather than applying for
further employment at more senior levels because well paid museum education jobs
are rare and would have involved moving my family away from sunny (sometimes)
Devon. Interestingly, as a consultant, I think my teaching qualifications and
experience - coupled with my heritage and museum education experience - are
valued now (by my clients) more than they were when I was in employment. I am
now regarded as an expert where before I was seen as an ex-teacher. If I had
been more valued when in employment I probably would have stayed there.
Consultant, White Rook Projects
Woollard AVR wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 10:56:40 -0800
> From: Verity Walker <[log in to unmask]>
> To: Woollard AVR <[log in to unmask]>
> Cc: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: RE: mid career professional development
> This is an interesting one!
> >From my own point of view, I believe that there is sometimes a conflict
> between the expectation that any candidate will have a recent teaching
> qualification and also possess a proven track record in museum/heritage
> education. With limited time and funding available for
> postgraduate/professional development training in anyone's career, just how
> and when is one expected to have achieved both?
> Before setting up my consultancy, I worked in a senior position in heritage
> education and did employ some non-teachers in responsible junior posts with
> good results. I looked for candidates from the Heritage Management degree
> courses (most of which include an education module) in particular. It
> did seem unfair that their career progression beyond that junior postwas
> likely to be hampered by the lack of a formal teaching qulification,
> however, when they did not actually want to become professional teachers.
> The need is for people who have lively minds, a good understanding of what
> is going on in the classroom, curriculum and education development
> generally, and above all an ability to communicate with children and
> teachers; but not necessarily a teaching qualification.
> After all, the skill set needed in heritage/museum and gallery education,
> where one engages with a class for perhaps as little as one hour before they
> vanish forever, is rather different from that needed for classroom work.
> By asking for a recent teaching qualification one narrows the field of
> candidates to teachers who, for whatever reason, wish to leave the world of
> mainstream education, or who have qualified but do not desire to teach. Is
> this wise?
> Education changes very rapidly and even those who qualified within the last
> five years would today find developments new to them if they returned to
> teaching. Instead of asking for a PGCE, why not develop a system of
> periodic term-long classroom placements for all established education staff
> in heritage/museum & gallery education, so that first-hand experience of the
> classroom could be kept current? It would also certainly enrich the
> schools to which they were sent, and I would have thought that DfEE would
> welcome the idea.
> I would be interested in the thoughts of others on this subject...
> Verity Walker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On
> Behalf Of Woollard AVR
> Sent: 17 March 2000 07:07
> To: gem
> Subject: Re:mid career professional development
> I would like to start a debate on the perceived notion that museums and
> galleries are finding it difficult to recruit well qualified and
> experienced museum and gallery educators for senior management jobs. There
> are a number of questions to ask:
> 1) Is this a correct view?
> 2) Do younger professionals feel unqualified for these senior posts? If so
> 3) Are the job descriptions/ person specifications inappropriate for the
> type of career paths people are currently taking?
> 4) What are the ideal requirements anyway for such jobs?
> 5) Has anyone gained career advancement from doing additional degrees/
> courses/ the AMA professional CPD schem or NVQs?
> I look forward to hearing your views.. Comments may well inform GEM
> and others as to consider how to remove "glass ceilings" and look to
> enhanced training/education.
> Note: For many, career development is not necessarily associated with
> vertical moves up the ladder but sideways e.g into
> consultancy/freelancing.. all views are welcome.
> Vicky Woollard
> Dept. Arts Policy and Management
> City University
> T. 0171 477 8756
> F 0171 477 8887