Learn About the People of Mexico at the Museum or Through a Virtual Tour from Your Own School

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) explores the diversity of languages in Mexico.

The IMC has an exhibit that provides an overview of the richness and diversity of languages in Mexico. It highlights samples of the more than 150 native languages still spoken there. The exhibit additionally focuses on some social implications of this diversity of languages within the national life of Mexico.

Electronic Field Trip at the International Museum of Cultures

If you have students that are interested but not able to visit the museum in person, there is another alternative. The IMC also provides insight into Mexico in its Electronic Field Trip. In the IMC Electronic Field Trip, a Museum Docent of Mexican heritage explains to  students that are touring the museum the tonal importance of these languages. Below is a sample of the dialogue in the Museum’s Virtual Tour:

DOCENT: “You can see that most of the non-Spanish speakers live in the southern part of Mexico. Some of the languages are tonal which means that the only difference between “I’m going, and I’m not going” may be the tone of your voice. Likewise, some are also nasal, and you must say a vowel through your nose. If you don’t, you might say “chili pepper”, like I did when you really wanted to say “horse’s tail”!”
STUDENT: “That could be a problem if you were trying to make chili and put a horse’s tail in the pot.”
DOCENT: “You’re right. Languages, to some extent, are partially a result of need. Mixtec dialects can have as many as 20 different words for corn, like the Eskimos have many words for snow: soft snow, slushy snow, icy snow, etc. The Tzeltales in the state of Chiapas have 25 verbs for “carry”, depending on HOW you are going to carry something: on your back, over your shoulder, in a pocket, in your hand, etc. “

View the promotional video of the eField Trip that visits Mexico, South America, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. Learn more by visiting International Museum of Cultures or call us at (972) 572-0462.

Multi-Sensory learning at the Museum

Learning through discovery is a powerful form of learning. Often times a question is answered that was not asked creating knowledge beyond the expected. In addition, the result is often more questions and the pursuit of further understanding. Museums offer this valuable form of learning, discovery.

Museums are recognizing that there is even more that they can do. They can lengthen the retention of the knowledge learned. Retention can be extended through the use of multi-sensory learning.

The rhetorical question is asked in Trendswatch 2014, “Remember when you looked at a painting, listened to music, tasted your food, smelled
perfume and touched a (real, physical) object?” The human senses encourage memory retention. The report goes on to say “The demand for multisensory experiences is accelerated by discoveries documenting the utility as well as the artistic challenge and the sheer fun of engaging all the senses.”

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) recognized the advantage of a multi-sensory experience quite a long time ago. The IMC has touch screen videos in select exhibits where the visitor can interact directly and choose to experience what the indigenous people see and hear. An example would be listening to the sound of a “Talking Drum“. The IMC also provides “Discovery Boxes” where the visitor can handle artifacts while following instructions that increase the engagement of the visitor with the daily lives of people living in far-away lands.

Discovery Boxes and the Electronic Field Trip are available for educational institutions to use at their locations. Engage the senses to encourage discovery and the retention of the information learned. For more information contact the International Museum of Cultures at 972-572-0462.Cultural context education

 

Why is Learning Through a Museum So Effective

We are reminded in the blog post called Memory and Storytelling, of an Indian proverb from a “stories-told” book, The Right Words at the RightTime by Marlo Thomas and Friends

“TELL ME A FACT: I’LL LEARN.
TELL ME A TRUTH: I’LL BELIEVE.
BUT TELL ME A STORY: IT WILL LIVE IN MY HEART–FOREVER.”

The artifacts in a museum all hold stories. And those stories are waiting to be released in a thunder within the minds of children that observe and, when possible, touch the artifact. This experiential effect stimulates further creative thinking leading to more questions and more answers.

A great example of an artifact that tells a story is the Talking Drum. The Talking Drum, called a nkul, is a wooden slit drum that reverberates at dawn around and through the trees and houses of the Ewondo people of Mekomba, Cameroon. When we think of drums being used to communicate, we often think of the drum as a musical instrument. Many cultures throughout history also used them to convey a signal. However, some native civilizations use drums as a speech surrogate. A Speech Surrogate replicates the tone and rhythm of oral speech, taking the ability of a drum to communicate to an entirely new level. Its these types of artifacts that take children to places they never imagined. (Refer to our previous post on Talking Drums where we highlight the book, the “People of the Drum of God – Come”.)

The Museum of International Cultures can bring this experiential learning to the classroom. The Student does not even need to travel to the museum. Some examples of the ways the Museum collaborates with educators are:

Discovery Boxes

Discovery Boxes allow students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way. Discovery boxes come in 12 different themes and include a variety of genuine artifacts from the museum’s collection. Students are be able to touch and examine the artifacts while completing activities and worksheets that encourage them to think critically about the world around them using Project Based Learning (PBL) methods.

Boxes include:

  • a teacher’s guide with detailed object descriptions
  • curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, fine arts, and math
  • eye-opening activities that guide your students through understanding the objects

Electronic Field Trip

The Electronic Field Trip is entirely online and is designed as an interactive learning tool.

  • A series of videos delivered over the Web that provide an entertaining tour of different sections of the museum. The tour focuses on the Peoples of Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and Mexico
  • Curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, and math.

For more information on the educational tools from the International Museum of Cultures, call (972) 572-0462.

As Education Transforms in the United States, Museums Play a Larger Role

Elaine Gurian wrote a paper about the opportunities for museums to deliver educational services that are more substantial and more central than is currently the norm. In this paper called  Opportunity for Museums in Light of Elementary and Secondary School Reform in the United States, Ms. Gurian states;

Museums, I hope, will capitalize on all these avenues of possible instruction methodologies and offer multiple content selections delivered through diverse methods and thereby become approved variants on classroom instruction in every town where they exist.

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) agrees that museums should take a larger role in education. The IMC has embraced technology and delivers electronic field trips directly to the classroom using the Internet. The IMC also provides hands-on projects where the children can touch and interact with the museum’s artifacts right in their own classroom.

Electronic Field Trip

The Electronic Field Trip is entirely online and is designed as an interactive learning tool.

  • A series of videos delivered over the Web that provide an entertaining tour of different sections of the museum. The tour focuses on the Peoples of Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and Mexico
  • Curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, and math.

Discovery Boxes

Discovery Boxes allow students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way. Discovery boxes come in 12 different themes and include a variety of genuine artifacts from our museum’s collection. Students will be able to touch and examine the artifacts while completing activities and worksheets that encourage them to think critically about the world around them using Project Based Learning (PBL) methods.

Boxes include:

  • a teacher’s guide with detailed object descriptions
  • curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, fine arts, and math
  • eye-opening activities that guide your students through understanding the objects

For more information on the educational tools from the International Museum of Cultures, call 972 572-0462

Entering a New Era in Education

Entering a new year, we reflect on the changes that we have seen in the past to predict the future that is before us. There is one primary purpose for this activity. That is to prepare ourselves to be the most effective in an ever evolving world.

Museum of International Cultures, Dallas, Texas

Museum of International Cultures, Dallas, Texas

As a museum with a mission of educating others on diverse cultures, we understand how quickly social and cultural changes can occur. An example is the change occurring in our educational system in the United States. We are entering a new era in education.

This new era is spurring conversation and, consequently, partnerships. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills professes that the key for success in the United States educational system is to fuse the traditional 3Rs with the 4Cs.

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving,
  2. Communication,
  3. Collaboration, and
  4. Creativity and innovation.

As the Center for the Future of Museums in their blog states: “…museums are pre-adapted to be major players in the next era of education.” The Center depict the new era of education to be:

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Beyond institutions
  • Software-mediated
  • Teacher as facilitator

Museums provide a means to personally interact with the subject to be learned. This experiential effect can stimulate further creative thinking leading to more questions and more answers. When learning in a museum setting, discovery can also create a desire to share the experience generating further collaboration and communication.

The International Museum of Cultures offers the following Educational Tools for this new era of education. These tools are specifically designed to address the new means of learning while also assisted the smaller school budgets of the new year.

Electronic Field Trip

The Electronic Field Trip is entirely online and is designed as an interactive learning tool.

  • A series of videos delivered over the Web that provide an entertaining tour of different sections of the museum. The tour focuses on the Peoples of Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and Mexico
  • Curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, and math.

Discovery Boxes

Discovery Boxes allow students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way. Discovery boxes come in 12 different themes and include a variety of genuine artifacts from our museum’s collection. Students will be able to touch and examine the artifacts while completing activities and worksheets that encourage them to think critically about the world around them using Project Based Learning (PBL) methods.

Boxes include:

  • a teacher’s guide with detailed object descriptions
  • curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, fine arts, and math
  • eye-opening activities that guide your students through understanding the objects

For more information on the educational tools from the International Museum of Cultures, call 972-708-7406.

Understanding the Harambee Movement by Understanding Different Cultures

Harambee (“Let’s Pull Together”)

The word Harambee has roots from Kiswahili (Swahili), an East African (Bantu) language. The word means “Let us all pull together”.

The term is commonly used in the context of a social and economic approach to development. The concept, in some form, is used in many developing countries throughout the world. The execution of the methods of Harambee are primarily run by the private sector. However, greater success can be presumably achieved through cooperation from the government when issues of  infrastructure and public grants are involved. So, a successful implementation of Harambee seems to require a partnership between non-government agencies (NGOs) and the government.

Harambee may be most widely implemented in Kenya. After Kenya had gained independence in 1963, there was a concerted effort toward country-wide implementation of Harambee.  The first Prime Minister, after Independence was gained by Kenya, encouraged the people to work together in their communities for the common goals of battling disease, lack of education, and poverty.

Understanding Harambee is better accomplished through gaining an understanding of the cultures that embrace it. International Museum of Cultures (IMC) has a Kenya exhibit for the purpose of educating its attendees. The IMC also has an Electronic Field Trip (Virtual Tour) that addresses cultures of Africa, as well as cultures of other countries in the world. The Electronic Field Trip comes with a complete curriculum for varied grade levels.

We have much to gain by understanding other cultures throughout the world, so that we may better understand our own.

Language is Built on the Need of Its Culture

The language of a people defines its culture in many ways.

“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you. They are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”
-Wade Davis

Electronic Field Trip at the International Museum of CulturesThe Electronic Field Trip from the International Museum of Cultures discusses this concept. Below is an excerpt from the e-Field Trip on Mexico. It touches upon how a language is built upon the foundation of its culture.

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

Docent:

What language is spoken in Mexico?

Student:

Spanish. My mother speaks Spanish when she is mad at me.
(student laughter.)

Docent:

Yes, Spanish is the dominate language in Mexico, but did you know that there are 7 language families in Mexico and 298 of individual languages besides Spanish? The map on the back wall shows, in white, where Spanish is the primary language and, in the colors, where other languages are predominate.
(Cut to map)
Docent: (CONT.)
You can see that most of the non-Spanish speakers live in the southern part of Mexico. Some of the languages are tonal which means that the only difference between “I’m going, and I’m not going” may be the tone of your voice. Likewise, some are also nasal, and you must say a vowel through your nose. If you don’t, you might say “chili pepper”, like I did when you really wanted to say “horse’s tail”!

Student:
That could be a problem if you were trying to make chili and put a horse’s tail in the pot.
(student laughter.)
Docent:
You’re right. Languages, to some extent, are partially a result of need. Mixtec dialects can have as many as 20 different words for corn, like the Eskimos have many words for snow: soft snow, slushy snow, icy snow, etc. The Tzeltales in the state of Chiapas have 25 verbs for “carry”, depending on HOW you are going to carry something: on your back, over your shoulder, in a pocket, in your hand, etc.

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

As we learn from the e-Field Trip, language is constructed on the foundation of the culture. If an indigenous culture is taught to speak a language from another culture, what is added and what is lost? How can the impact be measured?

Contact the International Museum of Cultures for more information on the Electronic Field Trip and other educational tools.