Thursday was International Mandela Day. As Dana mentioned in her post this week, we all went to Bramble Way Primary School to help out with Iziko’s Mobile Museum program. While we were there, we sat in on the school’s assembly. The principal talked to the kids, there was a performance by a dance troupe against violence against women, and a couple of police officers spoke, as well as a social worker from the area. But the best part was when Wayne, Director of Education and Public Programs, got up to speak.
First of all, he brought a puppet made from seaweed with him, which got the kids attention right away. Also, as soon as he got up there he had all the children sing a couple rounds of ‘If you’re happy and you know it, shout Madiba!’ which was such a nice change of pace for them after a long time of sitting still and being quite. Then to top it all off, he was enthusiastic and engaging. He also talked with them instead of at them, like when he asked the group what he was holding and what it was made of. He kept them involved.
Wayne’s speech was the one time that the students didn’t look bored to death. They clapped and laughed a little during a short part of the performance, and a few raised their hands when one of the cops asked a couple questions. But by far Wayne kept them the most engaged and the most entertained. And while they were engaged, he taught them about the object he was holding, about the museum, and about how their education will give them endless possibilities.
After the assembly, the students took turns going to the discovery table where all the animal specimens and fossils were. I watched Fareid, a museum educator, teach the students about some of the animals on the table. I didn’t get to watch for long, but the short part that I observed was great. He was teaching the students about what a mammal is, because he asked them if they were mammals and none of them knew. So he was asking them questions like, “Were you born alive or dead?” and “Did your mom love you and take care of you or did she kick you out of the house?” The kids loved it they were laughing and answering the questions, completely intrigued. It really made me realize (along with watching Wayne earlier) how great museum educators are. You could just tell a kid that a mammal is an animal that has live birth and nurses young, Or you can relate to them and make the subject interesting and intriguing; and therefore make it more likely that the child will actually retain that information.
It’s cheesy, but I couldn’t help smile watching the students have fun while learning at the same time.