The Educational Function of the History Museum in America
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I have attempted to thoroughly examine the material which is available about the field of museum education. Though American museums have long counted themselves as educational institutions, only in the relatively recent past has the field of museum education come into its own. The organized study of museology also represents a relatively recent phenomenon that consists of the complicated and sometimes painstaking process of examining ourselves and the ways in which we have considered, preserved, employed, and displayed the physical elements of our past. I have also considered elements of educational theory when examining the ways in which museums of history in America educate secondary school students. Particularly since the 1980's, theories of learning have played a governing role in the ways that departments of museum education conduct themselves. I have attempted to show in this investigation that museums of history can play an integral role in the way that we educate American secondary school students about history. As educators question the effectiveness of traditional forms of history education, museums can step up to become partners in the education of America's youth. It is not a new role for the American museum system, yet it often does involve a willingness to change ideas and practices. As we look to the future, we are able to see museums as more than warehouses of our material past. They are indeed tools for the future.