Informal Learning with Museum

Museums themselves can work in collaboration with the schools, local government, and other agencies to make a learning space on their premises.
Dipesh Dulal

The idea of informal learning with a museum came to my mind when our school group visited Changu Narayan temple premises (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) located in the eastern Hills of Bhaktapur District, Nepal in the Spring of 2013.

I come from a country where the pedagogical ecosystem is basically centered on authoritative textbooks. Whatever the textbooks contain, the teachers and students tend to follow, processing the content per se.

Nepal is also said to be a country with general incompetence of the school system (and those of the institutions of higher education) in terms of quality education. Basically, schools in Nepal are characterized by a lack of critical pedagogy and a shortage of cross-curricular experiences that would encourage teaching-learning experiences beyond the classroom walls.

One of the working solutions for addressing these problems can be reorienting teacher education (and consecutively, the pedagogical landscape) that promotes dynamism and transformative potential in each individual stakeholder, be it a curriculum developer, teacher, learner, or guardian.

In essence, teachers and school managers could start the transformative journey by being highly open, proactive, organized, and engaging in implementing cross-curricular, resourceful, and multi-stakeholder learning experiences for the school students.

The learner should be provided enough chances to navigate between formal education, non-formal education, and informal learning opportunities. Museum visits can be one of the most influential 'informal learning' opportunities for learners.

Museums themselves can work in collaboration with the schools, local government, and other agencies to make a learning environment (space) on their premises. Museums can be perfect places for learning various disciplines, especially history, science, and geography.

What did I see at Changu Museum?

Initially, I wrote this article just to show the medieval science carried by one of the artifacts at the Changu Museum. Later, while updating this article, I reckon that museums can be fluid spaces of interdisciplinary learning, and interplay of formal education, non-formal education, and informal learning.

Tulo: a medieval beam balance
a model of Medieval Balance found in Changu Museum, Bhaktapur, Nepal

Just before we entered the square of the Changu Narayan temple, we saw 'Changu Museum' managed by local people. Exploring the museum, we realized that it makes one aware of factual information about ancient and medieval Nepal.

A picture that I have posted here is all about the 'science' in it. I forgot when was such balance used in Nepal, but I saw a principle of lever here:

Load x Load Distance = Effort x Effort Distance

The plate can be considered as a load in which food stuffs can be measured against the effort (the woody mass on another end). If more mass had to be measured, the plate's end would be slid toward the string (fulcrum) that hangs the lever.

This signifies that medieval Nepal had science in it; which can still be studied as many of those articles and monuments have been conserved well. Learning science through ancient articles and monuments can be another idea in project-based learning.

UPDATE: I came across several of information from different sources later. This balance is called 'tulo' (तुलो) in Nepali language and is still being used in some places of Nepal for weighing meat to sell in the community after slaughtering the animal locally.

Dipesh Dulal
I am Dipesh Dulal, an enthusiast about people, places, education, and internet society.
"Perhaps, I could enlighten you to the moon and back."