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 Post subject: How the Public Views History What can we do?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:16 pm 

Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 4:59 pm
Posts: 138
Interesting topic and here are some of my thoughts. With the younger generation I don't think history is something they think about often. This is I believe is more typical of the current school age generation.

As a teacher I am constantly amazed at how they simply do not read. Youtube, etc. are the medium they use. I ask the question every year... who likes to read? one or two my raise their hand but the majority will tell me they hate to read. Thus they are removed from one of the primary sources of historical information. High school history simply cannot go in depth. Youtube does have some great content but also a lot that is not so.

I see a need for instant gratification. Whether this is due to video games or social media etc. I simply cannot speculate but I believe its a true problem that affects far more than just historic preservation - i.e. problem solving, dedication to purpose, working towards a long term goal, etc.

We have also all but stopped teaching trades in schools - remember industrial arts? They are gone. Technology has changed too. Try spending father/son or daddy daughter time tinkering on the family car - the technology and complexity simply makes it near impossible. Kid's simply do not have the opportunities to learn how to wrench, saw etc.

I could go into a lot more but I will stop with these.

So as a preservation community how do we attract interest from the younger generations? My thoughts tend towards catering to that need for instant gratification
by promoting hand-on interaction. The day's of the static museum - reading placards and signage and yes, watching interpretive videos are sadly slipping away.

For instance I am currently involved in a museum that focuses on Forest & Logging history. During events all our primary displays are "live" and the volunteers offer and encourage an interactive experience. Our volunteers go all out to interact with young people and encourage their participation. As a result we are drawing in some young(er) people.

Perhaps... and this is just speculation... maybe, sometimes, we get all wrapped-up in the physical aspects of preservation as well as our personal involvement and interest. maybe we forget that yes, preservation is indeed about preserving amazing technology, artifacts and history yet we forget or subjugate what I see as the biggest goal.... getting people interested, telling a good story and firing their imagination and curiosity - giving them an adventure. This is a model that seems to work for us.

The young man manning the steering wheel of our 19 ton Lombard was spending a memorable day at the museum with his dad. He helped us fire-up and was part of the crew for the day.


Video from one of our Children's days.

Again, interesting topic.

Best regards,

terry Harper

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