1st Edition

International Thinking on Children in Museums A Sociocultural View of Practice

Edited By Sharon Shaffer Copyright 2021
    242 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    International Thinking on Children in Museums introduces current research, theory, and practice about young learners in museums around the world. The book imparts vital knowledge about the nature of childhood and children’s learning that will improve understanding of the very youngest museum-goers.

    Including contributions from practitioners, scholars, and consultants around the globe, this volume examines museum practices and children’s learning across a range of distinct cultural and geographic locales. The framework of the book is based on research and current thinking in the realm of developmental psychology, sociology, and anthropology, allowing the contributors to examine the evolution of early learning and children’s programs through a sociocultural lens. This broad-based look at international museum practices for children offers a rare view of the field from an important, but oft-neglected perspective: that of society and culture.

    International Thinking on Children in Museums will broaden understanding of museum practice across cultures and geographic regions and, as such, will be of interest to scholars and students engaged in the study of museum education, museum studies, and early learning. It should also provide a much-needed source of inspiration for museum practitioners working around the world.

    Section I The Conceptualization of Childhood and Sociocultural Theory

    Chapter 1 Conceptualizing Childhood

    Chapter 2 The Museum as a Cultural Institution

    Sociocultural Theory: Influences on Museum Experiences for Children

    Section II Research Perspectives from the Field

    Chapter 3 Connecting Young Children’s Learning Processes with Art Museum Practices

    Louisa Penfold, United Kingdom

    Chapter 4 Young Children and Cultural Citizenship in Australia

    Barbara Piscitelli, Australia

    Section III Case Studies on Children and Museums

    Chapter 5 From Tool to Process: On Learning in Swedish Museums

    Göran Björnberg, Sweden

    Chapter 6 Play Africa: Disrupting with Children in Johannesburg, South Africa

    Gretchen Wilson-Prangley, South Africa

    Chapter 7 Early Learners in Lebanese Archaeology and Art Museums: A Sociocultural Case-Study

    Nelly Abboud, Lebanon

    Chapter 8 Developing Programs for Young Children at the National Museum of China

    Patricia Rodewald and Jing Zhao

    Chapter 9 Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center: A Gathering Place Where East Meets West

    Loretta Yajima

    Chapter 10 Inspiring Young Children in Museums: The Smithsonian Institution, Leading the Way

    Sharon E. Shaffer

    Chapter 11 A Case for Early Learning in Peruvian Museums

    Maria del Carmen Cossu and Irene Velaochaga

    Chapter 12 Discovering World Cultures through Chester Beatty’s Collections for Primary Schools

    Jenny Siung, Ireland

    Section IV Museum Practices in a Global Society

    Chapter 13 Making Sense of International Perspectives on Children in Museums


    Sharon E. Shaffer is recognized as a national and international leader in early learning in museums. As an independent consultant, she collaborates with traditional museums, children’s museums, and schools in their efforts to imagine and reimagine meaningful ways to engage children in learning about their world and themselves. She draws on her many years of experience in the field, including her tenure as the Founding Director for the Smithsonian Institution’s model lab school in Washington, DC, where she established a signature program of learning for the Institution. In recognition of her pioneering work, Shaffer received The Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service from the Smithsonian – the only educator with this distinction – for creating a national model in museum-based learning for young children. Shaffer teaches for The University of Virginia and publishes regularly. She was the guest editor for the Journal of Museum Education (Spring 2012), "Early Learning: A National Conversation." The success of her first book, Engaging Young Children in Museums (2015), now translated into Chinese and Greek, led to a second, Object Lessons and Early Learning (2018). Her second text explores the power of objects in learning, children’s curiosity about the world, and their natural affinity to collect.