While interning with the education department I’ve observed many school group tours that come through the various Iziko museums. I’ve learned many things, including how much work goes into education programming in museums in general, but what stuck out to me were the obstacles that prove to be challenging in a South African museum especially. Namely, barriers in language and education levels– because of the vast array of different cultural groups and the varying quality of schools in certain areas.
For example, a huge group from Limpopo came through. Since English wasn’t their first language, Nadjwa had to gauge their level of basic vocabulary in order to make it a tour they could actually understand by asking questions like, “Now, what is a dinosaur?” and “What is this? You would call it a (blank)” and explaining when they didn’t know. She noted that many schools bring groups to the museum for this reason– learning English vocabulary– which certainly puts extra pressure on her as an educator. With a similar tour at the Slave Lodge, Lungile asked the kids, “what is a slave?” With so many cultures, and therefore languages (Xhosa, Afrikaans, etc.), making up the South African population, there are inevitable challenges in education programs in regards to this. The educator must adjust their wording based on their audience. Even among the English speaking groups, there are divisions of education levels that also must be gauged so the educator knows which wording to use.
These are a couple prominent things I noticed during my observations of school tours. All I can say is…with my placement in the education department I have gained such an appreciation for teachers and educators both here and in South Africa.