Engaging Children Online: Is there Room for the Grittiness of Social Reality?

By Robin Johnston.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Museums are venturing into the worlds of social networking as they aspire to be more participatory and inclusive of children and young people. However, there are challenges in presenting the grittiness of social reality in online exhibition spaces. On the one hand, museums face political pressures about what are deemed to be accepted narratives for public education; on the other hand, they appear to be constrained by preconceptions about what is appropriate material for children. This paper discusses such tensions with reference to museum websites, particularly those focussing on one of the iconic topics of the Australian school curriculum, the gold rushes of the nineteenth century. The paper reports initial and ongoing research of museum websites for children. The findings and associated discussion are significant in the current climate of debate about the teaching of history in Australia and what these debates mean for the inclusive museum.

Keywords: Museum Education, Children Online, Teaching History

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.83-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 543.368KB).

Dr. Robin Johnston

Lecturer in Education, School of Education, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Robbie Johnston lectures in society and environment within teacher education and has a strong interest in socio-cultural perspectives to education. Her PhD research contributes insights about the teaching and learning of history within the school curriculum and teacher education. Her recent research has explored similar themes in teaching and learning in cultural institutions and schools. Robbie’s research interests encompass online curricula and pedgagies as well as community based teaching and learning.

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