The work of museum educators shines when it applies sound learning theory and pedagogy to practice. Phillippa Pitts’ article, “Visitor to Visitor Learning: Setting Up Open-Ended Inquiry in an Unstaffed Space,” offers readers creative, reflective, and practical examples of unstaffed, visitor-centered activities that are grounded within theoretical frameworks from the beginning. This work takes place in the Portland Museum of Art (PMA); however, the activities that have been developed use approaches that are accessible and transferable to all kinds of institutions.
Pitts sets the stage for her work with this statement from adult learning pioneer Malcolm Knowles, “At the heart of education is learning, not teaching, and so our focus has started to shift from what the teacher does to what happens to the learners” (p. 306).
This Reader Guide invites us to reflect on and discuss the following as a way to consider how Pitts’ work intersects with our own practice as museum educators.