One of Rereeti’s aspirations is to provide a support network for museum educators and others working with the public in museums and galleries. This blog aims to give a flavour of what one such organisation in the UK, GEM, provides.
The ‘Group for Education in Museums‘ (GEM) is a membership organisation that produces training, support, an annual conference, an annual journal, and twice-yearly collections of case studies written by members. Recent conferences have focused on ‘Enterprising Educators: Generating income without compromising one’s principles,’ ‘Thinking ahead and staying afloat,’ and ‘Making the Case’.
Here is what some of our members think about belonging:
“I could still do my job without GEM but I would be less informed (and rather lonely!) It gives me a sense of being part of a professional body of people.”
GEM “gives a sense of value for museum education work, professionalism, good networking, keeping up to date.”
“GEM provides information, contacts and encouragement – lifeblood for freelancers.”
Members also get daily help from their online discussion list asking questions, for example, about sources of funding, suppliers of materials, freelance storytellers or evaluators, how to cope with the new curriculum, how to work with adults with dementia or autistic children (accessibility in museums for persons with disabilities is a wholly unexplored but crucial demography). Invariably, members respond with advice, contacts and encouragement. Regional organisers provide events that give members a chance to meet regularly and share both their experiences and expertise.
We have just run our first foundation course – three pairs of days over three months. It was intended for those in their first year or so of their museum education career; or for those already working in a different part of the heritage sector but wishing to take up an education position.
Each student had a GEM member as a mentor, and most students were from small museums and on temporary contracts; several did more than one job. For more details of this pilot course see: http://www.gem.org.uk/home.html.
A question to all the professionals working with museums, galleries and heritage sites in India: What do you need from your organisation in order to support you in your professional growth? Write back in your comments.
About the Author
John Reeve, Former Chair of Group of Education (GEM), University College of London, Institute Of Education, London, and International Consultant on Rereeti’s Advisory Board.