National Museum’s New Education Strategy

May 16, 2019

The National Museum of Bermuda [NMB] launched its Education Strategy on Friday, May 3 at Bermuda College to a room full of educators, students, staff from local cultural institutions, and representatives of the Bermuda Government.

The interactive, illustrative, and immersive nature of the launch demonstrated how the NMB Education Strategy aims to reposition and repurpose the Museum to become a multi-faceted community institution that encourages and supports the open exploration of history, heritage and identity.

National Mus Bermuda 2019

Led by Dr. Janet Ferguson, Chair of the NMB Education Committee, the event outlined the development and aspirations of the strategy, included a presentation by Dr. Clarence Maxwell and an interactive group activity, and was graphically recorded by Pamela Barit-Nolan.

One of the major discussion points asked was “how do we get young people to connect with their past if they don’t think it is relevant or important?”

Initially raised by a student during a stakeholder discussion group in the early stages of the strategy’s development phase, the question led to a lively interactive group activity where participants were asked to answer three questions using only six words:

  • “Why is history relevant?”
  • “Why does heritage matter?”
  • “Who are my people?”

This was a fitting primer for a short lecture by Dr. Clarence Maxwell on Atlantic History, its importance to Bermuda, and how it can be used by the National Museum as a tool to better understand our collective identity.

As Dr. Maxwell said: “The Atlantic World is about the Atlantic Ocean; but much more: it is about how the life of the ocean has shaped the world and civilizations of the peoples living in the countries around it, including Bermuda; it is about how the people have also shaped this oceanic world. Atlantic History’s relevance lies in that it helps us understand how this world shapes our lives in the present, and how it provides us with tools for the future.”

The Education Strategy was developed by the Museum to inform NMB formal and informal learning, including core work such as research, exhibitions, publications, outreach and collection policies.

“It is the blueprint for safely and reliably plotting the learning landscape of the Museum” said NMB Executive Director Elena Strong; “the Strategy outlines five aspirations and moving forward all museum activity must relate to at least one or more of the aspirations”.

The aspirations of the NMB Education Strategy are:

  • 1] Engage Bermuda’s diverse community through history and cultural heritage in ways that foster a sense of place and identity
  • 2] Promote recognition and appreciation of the significant role Bermuda and Bermudians played in the development of the Atlantic World
  • 3] Play a collaborative role in the development and application of academic research and its inclusion in well-designed nationwide educational practices
  • 4] Advocate for and demonstrate a commitment to equitable and inclusive practices in relation to facilitating and promoting access to history
  • 5] Use multiple teaching and learning practices and a demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning to encourage critical and creative thinking.

The Strategy was developed by NMB Education Advisory Committee: Dr. Janet Ferguson [Chair], Dr. Crystal Clay, Jennifer Davidson, Rees Fletcher, James Hallett, Dr. Clarence Maxwell, Dr. Donna Outerbridge, Ru-Zelda Severin, and Elena Strong, NMB Executive Director, through consultation with major stakeholders, including public and private schools, the Department of Education, the Bermuda Government, and community groups, and with input and guidance from NMB Board and Staff.

The Museum’s next step is to hire a Learning and Engagement Officer who will work collaboratively to develop education programming with local organisations and government to implement the new Education Strategy.

This role will start by creating student education programming, teacher professional development courses, and create a more targeted approach to connect schools, teachers, community groups and lifelong learners with a more diverse and multi-faceted Bermuda history.

The NMB Education Strategy is available for download here.

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