Teacher agenda and teacher museum experience : a comparative study of England and Taiwan
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:45 by Yi Chun. Tsai
This thesis explored and compared primary school teachers' agendas and museum experiences in English and Taiwanese schools. Its aim was to understand the impacts of schooling contexts on teachers' perceptions, attitudes and experiences of utilising museums to facilitate their teaching in schools. This thesis employed a qualitative case study approach for its strengths in understanding the subject's viewpoints in his/her life context. Six case studies were conducted, three in England and three in Taiwan. Each case study focused on a primary school teacher's experience of conducting a museum visit. Unlike most research which only studies teachers within museums, this thesis adopted an approach which included participating in school life and recording every step when the teacher organised a museum visit, from preparation before the trip to the follow-up work. This strategy helped to thoroughly understand how the teacher's agenda was developed in the school context. It also investigated the whole process of the teacher's museum experience, and the effects of the teacher's agenda on this experience. In addition, this thesis compared the patterns which emerged from the English and Taiwanese case studies. This comparative approach further revealed the subtle, implicit sides of the teachers' ideas and schooling cultures. The findings of this thesis confirmed the hypothesis that the schooling context has a profound impact on teachers in terms of their attitude towards and usage of museums as an educational resource. Teachers, either explicitly or implicitly, do bring a set of values, needs and expectations when they come to museums. These perceptions, in other words, teachers' agendas, are substantially developed in schooling contexts. In terms of the schooling context, the thesis further identified its two main components, namely educational ideologies and structures. Due to different educational beliefs and curriculum requirements, English and Taiwanese teachers display contrast attitudes and approaches when they use similar educational resources - museums. The findings of this thesis implied the importance of the socio-cultural context that visitors bring to the exhibits, and in the case of this thesis, the schooling experience teachers bring to museums. This thesis also suggested that what teachers perceive and expect from the museum may not necessarily fit with the museum's agenda, that is, the message the museum tries to convey and what it expects visitors to do. In this case, teachers' experience in the museum will be more affected by their own rather than the museum's agenda because visitors are entitled to freely use museums in their own ways. This insight has encouraged museums, policy makers and researchers to pay close attention to the aspect of teachers' agendas, and to use a more holistic perspective to examine visitors' museum experiences which should not be limited to the museum setting, but should also extend to their life contexts in which their agendas are developed.