In schools, books are everything. You read, you learn.
When the topic is about a foreign country’s culture, you are obliged to read about their history, traditions, what they wear, etc. But is it really enough?
One school in Houston, Texas, the Spanish culture is taught by discussing not only about the country’s history but also of other neighboring Spanish-speaking nations. Moreever, they have annual potluck day too, where students get to eat food that are culturally inspired.
So while reading gives you the book knowledge, there are some lessons, like culture, that are better understood by experiencing them firsthand. This is the reason field trips are a thing in schools. But unfortunately, not every institution can afford to send their students to museums and historical places.
A nonprofit org noticed this problem, so sought ways to help. They came up with an idea: if children cannot go to museums, we’ll take the museum to them.
Established in 1995, Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum devised museums on wheels, which have been going around the city for two decades now. Starting at Plams Middle School in West Los Angeles, CCMM has already helped a total of 24 schools as of 2015.
To achieve their three main objectives—”to increase understanding and respect for cultural diversity, to develop students’ cultural competence, to support and enhance classroom learning”—CCMM created three exhibits.
The first one talks about resources, colonization, and trade. It is called the Commercial Collection. The second one is the Spiritual Exhibit, which focuses on religions. The third exhibit is the Everyday Connections, which displays items that people from different cultures use every day. These include games that the students can play themselves, clothes they can try on, and dishes they can try cooking and eating.
They can all visit the museum and do all these during their social studies class.
CCMM does this because they are well aware that students learn in different ways. While some are contented with just reading information about a frog’s system in a science book, there are those who learn fast by dissecting the animal themselves.
A student who just looks at a picture of a tribe in a world geography book might just have less to learn than the one who has actually held a piece of their clothing in his hands.
The museum on wheels is proven to be successful. Teacher Kim Moreno shared that the project helped her students who come from different families with varying backgrounds to understand each other and respect their differences.
The mobile museum is proof that there’s so much more to learn than what is written in the pages of your book.
CCMM’s founder, Valerie Lezin, said, “I can take kids from bewilderment to understanding, and from shock to acceptance.”