My Adventure at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum

I have always been torn about going to museums, it seems like a great way to create an additional learning opportunity for students but because I plan on teaching outside of the city, it also seems like an expensive and stressful opportunity for outside learning. The trip to the museum made me realize a few things, while the idea is great to do outside learning, I do not think that the museum is the best place to partake in outside learning related to social studies. Museums are bias, especially the Royal Saskatchewan Museum because it has not been redone in so long. If I were going to spend money on outside learning, I would take the students to Lebret, or the location for the signing of treaty four. Most small towns have their own pieces of historical relevance; like how Craik has an original Sod house that as students we did lots of learning with, such as comparing life now to than, spending a whole day living like pioneers, or how we looked at the structure of the house for a science class. I think that the students can learn more about First Nations from personal experiences and community than from an old museum that focuses more science than on history.  The article Social Studies Teachers’ Views on Learning Outside the Classroom has a lot of valuable points about having students make connections to topics learned in class, but it does not mention that these connections have to cost money, or that these connections have to be based on a museum. Outside learning can happen anywhere, especially in Saskatchewan because our province is so filled with history and experience. Students can take hikes to see buffalo rubbing stones, or go to different provincial parks to learn about the history. Museums are boring and condensed; this results in too much value being lost during the presentation, but actually seeing and taking part in the different sites that history took place is very different. Throughout the whole walk of the museum I tried to compare it to small town museums, and while small town museums are all done by volunteers and fundraisers they have so much more meaning that the big ones in the city. Punnichy, Saskatchewan has a huge heritage of aboriginal history because it has four surrounding reserves, and while you get to see the aboriginal heritage throughout the museum, you get to see the agriculture, and pioneers, and new technologies slowly replacing old technologies. Throughout the whole museum are stories of different people from Punnichy and surrounding communities that show the change through generations of people. That is not something you get from a big city museum. The big museums, do not have time or space for personal stories, so I would not spend any part of my year budget taking students to a museum where it shows a close minded opinion when they could have the chance to see what small town communities have to offer.

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum may be great as an idea, but it is not great in practicality and based on the faces of the few Aboriginals that I saw touring the museum at the same time, it is offensive to some aboriginals. It shocked me that the museum had no knew content about Aboriginals, considering all the changes that are happening within their culture, no mention of residential schools, or the Indian Act, Idle no more, or so many other major events that have happened. These events have not only effected Aboriginals but also all Canadians so it seems obvious to me that they would need to be included in the museum. Part of me wonders if there have been no changes because there is not the budget for changes, or if because administration does not see the need to change something that is “not relevant to our future”. Outside learning is important, but not if the outside learning is tainted with misleading information or ideas. The museum needs to be changed, and if they were going to have the majority of a floor dedicated to Aboriginals, it would make sense if Aboriginals had say in the presentation of the display, rather than have people that put little consideration into what is being told about history.

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